Things have changed over the past couple of years regarding how to care for baby teeth. Official recommendations for fluoridated toothpaste begin with the very first sighting of the very first tooth. This is news to many.
What we do early in our child’s life can have lasting consequences. Some quick reminders for new parents, grandparents and anyone out there lucky enough to be hanging out with an infant. Keep their mouth delicious!
5 Things Every Parent Needs To Know About Baby Teeth
- Use fluoridated toothpaste at tooth eruption. The minute those baby teeth come in consider it the start of the lifelong brushing habit for your baby. Brushing and rinsing the teeth after breastfeeding or formula, solid meals or snacks will always be recommended. In minimum, build brushing into everyday, ideally morning and night, with a tiny amount of fluoridated child toothpaste (see image above). This may be most important after the last evening feeding.
- Tap water! Brush with tap water twice a day and provide tap water for your infants and children when serving water. After you brush teeth DON’T RINSE with water. Let the tiny amount of fluoride from the brushing sit on the teeth as long as possible to prevent decay.
- Use the right amount of toothpaste (image above). This provides protection from bacteria and acid but also avoids concern for too much toothpaste.
- < 3 years of age – rice sized smear of toothpaste on the brush.
- > 3 years (including adults) pea sized amount of toothpaste is all you need on your brush once you know how to spit.
- Don’t rinse after brushing.
- Timing: Most infants and toddlers, preschoolers and young children can brush their teeth and tongue in about 1 minute — goal really is to brush at the gumline on all sides of each tooth, paying special attention to back teeth, molars, and lower teeth where bacteria love to reside. For older children, teens and adults the rule of thumb is typically 2 minutes of brush time to brush teeth, tongue and rid mouth of dragon breath!
- Bacteria: Baby teeth enamel is thinner than adult (secondary) teeth so the mix of sugar and bacteria in the mouth must be deterred. We unfortunately transfer oral bacteria to babies when we share utensils, kiss them, clean their pacifiers with our mouths (don’t do it!), and drink from shared cups. If you have a history of lots of cavities the American Academy of Pediatrics’ new policy says, “Parents/caregivers, especially those with significant history of dental decay, should be cautioned to avoid sharing with their child items that have been in their own mouths.” I’m all for smooching babies so I say this: get to the dentist yourself to make sure your mouth is in tip-top shape to avoid some bad transfers…
Hi, nice article.
There was actually a recent study saying hat there is no correlation between pacifier cleaning with your mouth and tooth decay, plus the bacterial sharing might protect against allergies. Cannot look for it just now (dead tired).
I still cannot do it though. Yikes. I Do Not even share a bottle of water with my kids …
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I am aware of the allergy study (it was published in Pediatrics in 2013 — link below) re: the hope for immune protection from allergies. Most I talked to at the time it came out were frustrated that this small study overlooked oral health issues. It was a study of only 65 patients.
Would be delighted to see the study (and quality of it) regarding the new data out on pacifiers/oral health that you mention.
Thanks for nice tips. What about the temperature of water? My son don’t use warm water (I don’t know why), he uses only cold water (and during winter time the water is ice-cold). How dangerous is this for his teeth?
And one more questions. Does Amway toothpaste for adults fits 9-yrs old kid?
I am glad that you mentioned how influential the first years are for a child’s development and habits. A parent’s example and proper teaching will shape their children’s over-all hygiene. It may be a long and difficult process before a child can manage brushing correctly all by himself, but the important thing is that he takes it upon himself and feels responsible.
Great! I was looking around for something I can read about infant oral hygiene and I found out this article. This is something that is really informative and can also apply to our children.