In the third part of this series, Dr. Vyas answers some simple FAQs on brushing your little one's teeth better. Read on to find out more about tooth brushing tips for kids.
The American Academy of Paediatric Dentist recommends that the child visits the dentist by the first birthday. They should definitely have been to a dentist by their second birthday. In the first visit the child is examined and his teeth are assessed by the dentist. The parents are counselled regarding brushing, diet and habits to ensure they can take care of the child's teeth at home. It is important to find a Dental Home for your child so that your child is happy to visit the dentist for years to come!
A baby's mouth should be kept clean even before the teeth erupt,using a wet clean cloth or sterile gauze/cotton wipe the gums twice daily. This helps in setting up a good routine Brushing should begin as soon as the first tooth erupts. Initially the teeth can be brushed gently with a finger brush. Once the upper and lower incisors erupt completely (1year +) start using a baby soft brush with a smear of Fluoride free toothpaste.
At night the activity in the mouth comes to a standstill and if food is stuck to the teeth, the decay producing bacteria consume the food and then release acids on to the teeth causing cavities. Hence, brushing at night is very important in preventing tooth decay. Parents are encouraged to brush along with the children so that it becomes an accepted part of the family's daily routine.
Till the age of two, a smear of Fluoride free toothpaste is used. At 2 years, 'low' Fluoride toothpaste (500ppmF) is started. A pea-size amount of this toothpaste is dispensed and the paste is then pushed into the bristles. It is normal for children to swallow this toothpaste as they are unable to rinse and spit at this young age.
The regular adult toothpastes available in the chemists all contain optimal 1000pm F. After 5 years of age, once your child has learnt how to expectorate, the regular toothpastes may be used. However, children may not be comfortable with the strong flavours and find them spicy. The best toothpaste is the one that is liked by the child!
Always use a soft bristle tooth brush for all ages. Various toothbrushes specific to your child's age are available. If you are unable to get an age appropriate toothbrush it is better to use a toothbrush which has a reasonably small head so that it can be manoeuvred easily and reach all the corners of the mouth. Remember, the best brush is the one that gets used!
Power tooth brushes have colourful designs and the novelty factor of having music and timers definitely makes these appealing to children. Battery operated or power brushes are good provided your child has the patience to use these brushes correctly. These brushes have to be held on each tooth/teeth for a count of 10 before proceeding to the next set of teeth. Using this powered brush like a manual toothbrush defeats the purpose of the reciprocating bristles and reduces the efficacy of brushing.
For children up to the age of two years it is best to place their head in your lap or on the bed so that you can brush their teeth. For older children, it is best to stand behind them so that you can get a better view from the top and you will be able to control the brush better. Never brush with them standing in front of you as you may jab the brush in to their mouth, thereby hurting them.
Brushing is done in two parts: For the top or the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, the brush is moved horizontally, back and front ten times. This is repeated for all four sides of the mouth.
Brushing the sides of the back and front teeth is achieved by circular motions of the brush starting with 10 counts for the back teeth, 10 counts for the corner (canine area) and 10 counts for the front teeth. Your child is asked to keep the teeth together, edge to edge, so that both the upper and lower teeth are cleaned simultaneously using the 'round and round' movement. This is then repeated for the other side.
It is advisable to brush your children's teeth till they are about 7 years of age. Till this age they do not have the understanding of how to brush correctly and also do not possess the manual dexterity. Often your child wishes to brush by him/herself. Allow them to do so but make sure you finish the brushing yourself. After the age of 7, make sure you are there to supervise their brushing especially at night so that the teeth remain decay free.
Brushing alone is not sufficient to clean out all the tooth surfaces. Flossing is recommended to clean the tight contacts between teeth where food invariably remains stuck. Once your child is 4 years old and the routine of brushing twice daily has been established you should introduce flossing to your child. Initially it is advisable to floss only between the two molar teeth at the back. Using floss mounted on a 'U' or 'Y' handle is easier to use in your child's mouth. Ask your Pediatric Dentist for a demonstration before proceeding.#kidshealth