Pediatric dental care is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of child development. While countless online sources on dentistry are available to parents, it's important that they find information that is both accurate and convenient.
In February 2014, the American Dental Association (ADA) updated its position on fluoride toothpaste for children under the age of two. Because of this change, much of the information online about toothpaste is outdated. This page will help you make an informed decision about what kind of toothpaste your child should use.
Our doctors at Treehouse Children's Dentistry can always discuss toothpaste selection and many other aspects of your child's dental care when you come in for your appointment.
WHAT IS FLUORIDE AND WHAT DOES IT DO?
As long as they have teeth, children are at risk of tooth decay. Therefore, you must act proactively in preventing it. Many toothpastes contain fluoride, an additive meant to strengthen the enamel that baby teeth need for development. It is important to use a toothpaste that contains fluoride since tap water and bottled water don't always contain it.
AGE-BASED FLUORIDE PORTIONS
The ADA's new recommendation states that children younger than three years old should brush twice a day with a smear of toothpaste containing fluoride that is no bigger than a grain of rice. After age three, the ADA recommends that children brush with a portion of toothpaste the size of a pea, once in the morning and again at night. Before the change in 2014, children age two and older could brush with a pea-sized portion of fluoride-containing toothpaste.
If you're a parent, it's expected that you supervise and aid your child when they brush and check to make sure they're not neglecting any of their teeth. It is normal to continue doing this with your child until they are 12 years of age. This helps ensure they stay personally accountable for their dental health as they enter adolescence and adulthood.
Getting your kids to brush and floss every day is often difficult, but keep at it. Your oversight today will determine your child's oral health when they are older.
ADA-APPROVED ORAL PRODUCTS
Even if you're no longer monitoring your child's brushing habits, you should ensure they use the right kind of oral products. Look for products that have the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Products with this seal are approved by the ADA, effective, safe, and in line with their scientific claims.
Make sure your child has the right size of toothbrush when they brush their teeth. Your local drugstore or pharmacy should have toothbrushes in a wide assortment of shapes and sizes, making brushing a fun way for your child to practice good oral hygiene.
Oral rinses and mouthwashes are of use to patients of all ages as well. But regardless of which ADA-approved product you opt for, the important thing is that your kids get into the habit of brushing and flossing regularly.
If you are having trouble making decisions on oral products, ask for help. It's important to make sure you have the right information if you want to make the right pediatric dental choices. By making sense of the ADA's recommendations, you can take confidence knowing you are providing your child with the oral care they need.
Finding the Perfect Toothbrush
Your first step should always be finding the right toothbrush for your child. Kids' toothbrushes are ideal for small mouths and sensitive gums because they are built to be smaller with softer bristles.
Whether you are shopping online or at most large retail stores, you will be inundated with the number of different options for children's toothbrushes. They come in almost every color imaginable, and many of them are branded with your child's favorite movie, TV, or even YouTube character.
Your child will be able to pick out the brush that perfectly matches their personality, establishing a sense of possession that helps them feel responsible for the health of their teeth.
Which Toothpaste Does the Dentist Recommend?
Once you have the perfect toothbrush, now it is time for the perfect toothpaste. It can be difficult to know what the best toothpaste is for your baby or child. Just like with brushes, there are a lot of options out there. So many options, in fact, that selecting the right one can sometimes seem overwhelming.
You can immediately narrow down the selection, no matter the age of the child, by eliminating any toothpaste without fluoride, as that is essential for maintaining healthy enamel, and will likely fall under the category of a dentist recommended toothpaste.
Flavors of Toothpaste
You should also stick to toothpastes that are specifically designed for kids, as they have flavors meant to appeal to youthful taste buds. Allow children to choose their own toothpaste.
If you have the option, let your child pick out multiple flavors (strawberry, pickle, chocolate, oreo) so they can decide which one they like best.
Having a flavor they like helps ensure they brush for the recommended two minutes, instead of spitting out the toothpaste early. Avoid using too much toothpaste as this can also be unpleasant for small children — a tiny smear for kids under three, and a pea-sized blob for kids over three.
Creating the Perfect Routine
The final step is creating the perfect daily routine so that your child gets used to brushing every day, twice a day, two minutes each time.
You can do this by making a chart and putting it in the bathroom where they brush. By marking off each time they brush, you create a visual reminder instead of having to nag them. At set checkpoints, reward your child for good habits by getting them a special treat or taking them somewhere fun.
The perfect routine should also be fun for your child and something they look forward to every morning and evening, instead of something they feel obligated to do.
Sing, dance, read aloud, play music, or whatever else your child enjoys most. It might be as easy as brushing along with your child, showing them that even the people they look up to most are doing the exact same things that they are doing.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CHILDREN'S DENTAL CARE:
Preventive Dentistry Services
Initial Exam and Digital X-Rays
Age 1 to 2 Visits
Baby Teeth Matter
Empower Kids to Care About Teeth
Tips for Brushing
Your Child's First Visit
Dental FAQs for Kids
Make an Appointment at Treehouse Children's Dentistry!
For more information, please contact our office at 256-712-4080, or schedule an appointment today!