Infants require daily oral hygiene because the tissues in the mouth require cleansing to prevent irritation and infection. A common but treatable fungal infection known as Thrush is caused by yeast that often appears in areas of the mouth that may have torn tissue, due to constant sucking on a pacifier, bottle, or even breastfeeding. The tiny tears remain moist, and if not removed, the yeast can cause this painful condition.
It is never too early to begin a regular brushing routine with your child. Babies can begin teething at three months old. However, it is more common to begin teething around 6 to 7 months old. The first teeth that appear are usually lower incisors or front teeth. By the age of 3, children should have their complete set of 20 teeth.
As the teeth grow, use a toothbrush that is designed for your child’s age, as indicated on the package. You may decide to use a tooth-cleansing paste, such as Baby Orajel Tooth and Gum Cleanser that is designed for young children and is safe if swallowed. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended use.
Use the correct brushing and flossing method, when caring for your child’s teeth. Most children like to show their independence by doing tasks, such as brushing their teeth, on their own. You should brush your child’s teeth twice a day until he (or she) can brush their own teeth correctly, around the age of six, but also, allow your kids to brush their teeth themselves, either before or after you have completely removed all of the plaque. When you are confident your child is capable of brushing alone, use a timer and time your child’s brushing for the recommended two minutes. When complete, always do a final inspection. Remember to applaud a job well done, and if you do notice any teeth that have been missed, show your child the area and demonstrate how he should remove the plaque or food.
The permanent teeth usually begin growing in when a child is six, although every child is different and may get teeth earlier or later than this.
The 32 adult teeth are typically fully erupted between 17 and 25 years old. As the teeth progressively appear, ensure your child is brushing away any food or plaque that is visible on the tooth. It may be slightly uncomfortable when brushing newly erupted teeth because they are so close to the gum-line. Plaque build-up will not only increase the chances of decay; but the gum tissue will also become red and inflamed, causing pain and inflammation.
The transition between baby teeth and permanent teeth is not as difficult as teething, although your child may be uncomfortable when eating. If your child is having problems either because of sore gums or simply because he can’t bite into the food, offer softer food choices and try to cut hard food into bite-sized pieces, to be chewed with the molars, or back teeth.
Once your child begins brushing on their own, it is important that you keep an eye out for any signs of gingivitis. If you can visibly see the plaque, encourage the proper brushing and flossing technique for the recommended two minutes. Discuss any concerns you have with us at your next cleaning and check-up appointment. Our hygienist will go over brushing and flossing with your child if there are any areas of concern, and we will offer tips and suggestions for your child to keep in mind when brushing at home.
By following these guidelines, your child can grow up (with regular dental checkups) to have healthy teeth and gums!