When Can I Use Toothpaste For My Child?
Dental care for young children
When should I start my child’s oral care?
Many parents are surprised when our Brisbane dental professionals tell them: you can start to take care of your little one’s dental care before they even have any teeth!
Cleaning your baby’s gums will remove bacteria from their mouth and prepare them for future tooth brushing habits when their first tooth pops out.
Oral Health before teething
Keeping your baby’s mouth clean
You can follow the steps below to clean your child’s mouth after feeding them:
- Prepare a clean piece of soft cloth or gauze.
- Dip the gauze into clean water.
- Start wiping your baby’s gums gently.
- You can clean your baby’s gums twice a day.
No Toothbrush No Toothpaste before a baby has their first tooth. You do not need to use a toothbrush or toothpaste to clean your baby’s gums and mouth before they have their first baby teeth.
Baby teeth: your child’s first teeth
Most children begin to have their first tooth at about six months; paediatric dentists recommend parents take care of their kids’ teeth from that age to prevent decay and encourage positive oral health habits. Some children may start to have their first teeth at around three to four months of age, and some do not get their first primary teeth until age twelve months.
Many children have twenty baby teeth by the time they are three years old. Keeping children’s baby teeth is essential for proper dental development because they are sometimes called “space holders for adult teeth”.
Adult Teeth or Permanent Teeth
Children will start to get their adult teeth or permanent teeth at around six years of age and usually will have all their thirty-two permanent teeth by the time they are twenty years old. It is worth knowing that roughly 30% of people don’t have wisdom teeth!
Your child’s teeth are at risk of tooth decay from the very beginning, which is why in paediatric dentistry, brushing teeth and removing plaque at a young age are highly recommended to improve the child’s oral health and prevent tooth decay.
The destructive MYTH about children’s dental visits and dental care!
Some people think they should start dental care for their children when they get their first adult teeth, and some will put off their children’s first visit with a dentist until the child has got all their adult teeth! Followers of this wrong belief will elevate their child’s risk of dental problems such as tooth decay. As a responsible parent or caregiver, you are supposed to arrange an appointment for your child with an experienced kids dentist before they get their first birthday.
Facts about tooth decay:
- Tooth decay refers to the breakdown of the tooth enamel.
- Tooth decay can be caused by the accumulation of plaque on the teeth.
- Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth regularly.
- Plaque must be appropriately removed from your baby’s mouth by proper brushing twice a day.
- Tooth decay can occur in both baby teeth and permanent teeth.
- The enamel on a baby’s first teeth is thinner; that’s why they are more prone to decay.
- If your child eats sugary foods and drinks like soft drinks without brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste, they have a higher risk of decay.
- White spots on the front teeth can be the first signs of tooth decay.
To avoid tooth decay, children must avoid indulging in too many sugary foods and drinks, follow a proper oral health routine (brush their teeth daily and floss regularly), and have regular dental visits.
Oral Health after teething
Dental care tips to look after baby’s teeth
When your child gets their first tooth, you can schedule their first visit with an experienced paediatric dentist and receive helpful brushing tips and dietary advice.
How to brush your baby’s teeth
Here’s how you can brush your child’s teeth to improve their oral health and prepare them for future tooth brushing.
- Buy a soft-bristled toothbrush specially designed for baby tooth brushing.
- Apply a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste on your baby’s toothbrush. Low fluoride
toothpaste for children can be a good option to purchase for your child. (Consultation with kids dentists is needed)
- Angle the toothbrush at a 45 degree to your child’s teeth and start brushing.
- Gently brush their teeth with circular motions and avoid scrubbing or applying too much pressure to prevent damage to the mouth’s soft tissues.
- Make sure you brush the outer and inner sides and the chewing surfaces of your child’s teeth.
You can also brush your baby’s tongue.
- Please remember that children need to be observed while brushing their teeth until they reach seven or eight years old.
- By a tiny smear of toothpaste, your dentist means the size of a grain of rice!
- Please replace toothbrushes every three months to make sure the toothbrush bristles are doing a great job removing plaque from the teeth.
- If you are using an electric toothbrush to brush your children’s teeth, hold the brush head in place for a few seconds against each tooth and avoid moving it in circular motions.
- You can give your child a sippy cup of water after brushing if they can’t spit out toothpaste.
When can I use toothpaste for my baby?
There are many conflicting opinions about the appropriate time to use toothpaste for children. The best course of action would be to consult with a professional dentist on the matter. Discussing with your child’s dentist is necessary because they may decide to prescribe fluoridated toothpaste for the baby from a younger age if they have a great risk of developing dental caries or tooth decay.
Your child’s dentist can also introduce age-appropriate toothpaste with a nice flavour for young children.
Clean your children’s teeth from six months to seventeen months with water only.
According to an Australian Dental Journal “Guidelines for the use of fluorides in Australia: update 2019”:
Parents or caregivers should start brushing their baby’s teeth from when their teeth erupt in their mouth with an extra soft-bristled toothbrush specially designed for a very young child and no toothpaste until the age of seventeen months.
Brush your children’s teeth from eighteen months to five years old with low fluoride toothpaste.
When your baby turns eighteen months old, you can brush their teeth using low fluoride toothpaste until they reach the age of five years old.
The toothpaste should contain 0.5–0.55 mg/g fluoride. Apply a small pea-sized amount of toothpaste to a child-sized soft toothbrush and brush your baby’s teeth.
Make sure your child spit out the excess toothpaste, not swallow and not rinse.
It’s essential to observe the child and ensure they are not using too much toothpaste. Being exposed to too much fluoride can lead to fluorosis that can affect the teeth during the first eight years of life.
Fluorosis is when some faint white lines or streaks appear on the teeth because a child has been exposed to too much fluoride.
Children aged six and more can use regular fluoride toothpaste
When your baby turns six, they need to use more fluoride. You can switch from low fluoridated toothpaste to regular toothpaste. (toothpaste that contain 1–1.5 mg/g fluoride) make sure the child spits out the excess toothpaste, not swallow and not rinse.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is widely distributed in nature. Adding this mineral to dental health care products and tap water supply will reduce the risk of tooth decay and caries by strengthening the tooth enamel.
Children can receive fluoride through fluoridated tap water, low fluoridated toothpaste, and foods or drinks that contain fluoride.
Some people prefer to avoid using fluoride for their children and go for fluoride-free toothpaste.
Please talk to your child’s dentist if you are concerned about using fluoride for your young toddlers.
You are welcome to call us on Pure Dentistry 07 3343 4869. You can also book online and schedule an appointment.