When Should Kids Start Brushing Their Teeth?

Kids Dental care should begin before the baby’s first tooth is ​visible. It doesn’t matter if you don’t see your teeth, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t there. The second trimester of pregnancy is when teeth begin to form. Your baby is born with 20 primary teeth. Some of these teeth are fully developed in your jaw.

Here are the details on how and when to take care of these little cuties:

To get rid of harmful bacteria, you can run a damp, clean washcloth over your baby’s gums before they start to teethe.

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Use an infant toothbrush to brush your baby’s teeth when he or she is able. Use water mixed with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. This should be about the same size as a grain of rice. Fluoride toothpaste should be approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). You can use baby toothpaste with no fluoride. However, you want to reduce the amount of toothpaste swallowed.

You can floss between your baby’s two front teeth if they touch.

Your child should start to spit when brushing around age 2. Avoid giving your child water to swish or spit as this could make it more likely that they swallow toothpaste. Children 3 years old and older should only use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste

Children younger than 8 years old should not brush their teeth. They are more likely to swallow toothpaste.

Even babies can get tooth decay. A bottle or juice can cause tooth decay in babies who are put to bed with it. Sugars from formula, juice, and milk can leave a baby’s tooth enamel for hours, which protects it against decay. This can cause “bottle tooth decay” (or baby bottle tooth decay). The front teeth may become discolored, pocked, or pitted when this happens. Cavities can form, and in extreme cases, teeth may need to be pulled.

Children can change from a baby bottle to a sippy mug when they are six months old. This prevents liquid from pooling around the child’s teeth. They will be able to use the cup independently by their first birthday.

When Should Kids See a Dentist?

According to the ADA, children should see a dentist before their first birthday. The dentist will show you how to brush and floss properly and perform a modified exam. Your baby can sit on your lap while the dentist does this.

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These visits can detect problems early on and help children get used to going to the dentist. This will help them feel less anxious about visiting the dentist as they grow older. You might consider taking your child to a pediatric dentist who is trained in treating children. Pediatric dentists have the training to deal with a wide variety of problems that can affect children’s dental health. They are also trained to know when to refer you for a specialist such as an orthodontist to fix an overbite, or an oral surgeon to realign your jaws.

The dentist might apply topical fluoride to children who are at high risk of developing cavities or other issues. This can also be done in the pediatrician’s office. Fluoride hardens tooth enamel and helps to prevent the most common childhood dental disease, dental cavities.

How Can We Prevent Cavities?

Cavities happen when bacteria and food left on the teeth after eating are not brushed away. Acid collects on a tooth, softening its enamel until a hole — or cavity — forms.

Here’s how to keep cavities away:

  • Start good oral habits early. Teach kids to brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and to floss regularly.
  • Get enough fluoride. Regular use of fluoride toughens the enamel, making it harder for acid to penetrate. Although many towns require tap water to be fluoridated, others don’t. If your water supply is not fluoridated or if your family uses purified water, ask your dentist for fluoride supplements. Most toothpastescontain fluoride but toothpaste alone will not fully protect a child’s teeth. Be careful, however, since too much fluoride can cause tooth discoloration. Check with your dentist before supplementing.
  • Limit or avoid some foods. Sugary foods, juices, candy (especially sticky gummy candy, gummy vitamins, or fruit leather or “roll-ups”) can erode enamel and cause cavities. If your kids eat these foods, have them rinse their mouth or brush their teeth after eating to wash away the sugar. The same goes for taking sweetened liquid medicines: always have kids rinse or brush afterward.
  • As your child’s permanent teeth grow in, the dentist can help prevent decay by applying a thin wash of resin (called a sealant) to the back teeth, where most chewing is done. This protective coating keeps bacteria from settling in the hard-to-reach crevices of the molars. But make sure that kids know that sealants aren’t a replacement for good brushing and regular flossing.