Dental care for kids can feel overwhelming, but following a few simple tips makes it easier. In this post, we will be providing a useful overview for when kids should start brushing, how much toothpaste they should use, the role of flossing for young kids, and to discuss if mouthwash is safe for children to use.
When should kids start brushing?
Brushing should begin for children as soon as they receive their first tooth. While this may seem obvious, many parents find it odd to brush a single tooth in their child’s mouth. However, childhood tooth decay can start early, and with infants receiving formula, milk and sugary drinks, it is important to brush their teeth to remove harmful sugars left behind in the mouth from these liquids. This is especially true if they drink formula, milk or sugary drinks before bedtime, as it is harmful to let sugary liquids sit on teeth overnight.
How much toothpaste to use for kids
When putting toothpaste on the brush for children under the age of 2, it is important to use only a small smear on the bristle tips only. Don’t use a bulk of toothpaste like you would for an adult. This is because young children don’t yet know how to properly spit out the toothpaste, and they still have to learn to not swallow it. For kids this age, you can always use a wet cloth to wipe out the toothpaste once the brushing is complete.
After the age of 2, you can start to put a larger amount of toothpaste on the brush, around the size of a grain of rice.
Should children be flossing?
The fundamental principle to understand with flossing, regardless of your age, is that it reaches areas between the teeth that the bristles of a toothbrush cannot reach. It is a myth that just brushing harder, or brushing longer, will eventually provide the same results as flossing. Flossing is therefore an essential part of any oral hygiene routine and should start with children as early as their first birthday.
For parents, a great choice for flossing your child’s teeth are the plastic handled floss picks. These are easier to use than regular floss because parents can hold the handle and floss the child’s teeth with less effort than having to use string floss. Remember, children usually can’t floss properly themselves until around the age of 8, or around the time they learn to tie their own shoes.
If your child is curious about flossing, it is always a good idea to let them practice on their own teeth to become familiar with the practice, and then parents can finish the job properly to ensure a good cleaning is performed.
Can kids use mouthwash?
It is recommended to not use mouthwash for children under the age of 6, or at least until they learn to use it without swallowing. As mouthwash can contain fluoride or alcohol, it is not meant to be digested or swallowed.
Once you start using mouthwash for your child, avoid those that contain alcohol, and always store the mouthwash in a secure location because children may think that the colorful liquid contained in the bottle is safe for them to drink.
When you should schedule your kid’s first visit to the dentist.