Toothpaste: when should we begin using it and how much should we use?

With a population of close to 80,000, many young families have opted to call Goodyear, Surprise and Verrado home. A better lifestyle is a big attraction, and particularly the many benefits this Phoenix enclave offers parents raising preschool children. Advanced healthcare, including arguably the best pediatric dentistry and orthodontics in the US, is a huge advantage.

Oral hygiene begins with brushing one’s teeth the right way.

Babies and toddlers need to appreciate the vital role of oral hygiene in their development even before they can talk. It is indeed a daunting challenge to teach a kid with a ten-second attention span to brush his or her teeth correctly; at least twice a day, for two minutes at a time, using the same toothbrush, and a finely measured glob of toothpaste. The parental attributes that work wonders are patience, and making the care of one’s teeth a fun learning experience.

Erratic brushing routine alongside ineffective brushing technique leads inevitably to tooth decay. The health of permanent teeth correlates closely to the care of temporary ones. For example, bad oral hygiene habits at the toddler stage persist through to adolescence and probably into adulthood. Moreover, the condition of one’s first teeth impacts speech development, nutrition, and can precipitate childhood ill health in other parts of the body.

At what age does brushing teeth begin?

Dental expert advice to parents with newborns is to start early; approach the challenge with commitment; be flexible but resolute in getting one’s child to the end goal. Exercise patience and be gentle in getting the message across.

Brushing, believe it or not, begins before the toddler’s first teeth break through. Let the little one watch its mother brush every day so that the routine becomes a natural part of life. Be demonstrative – play the brush, rinse, and spit game with loud noises. Tune into music during teeth brushing, so that the good sensory experience integrates with the activity.  Afterward, wrap a cloth around the index finger and simulate brushing on the baby’s gums. Choose cartoon videos where favorite characters entertainingly brush their teeth.

Connect to a pediatric and orthodontic dentist’s practice in Goodyear six months after birth – professionals that will be an end-to-end guide right through to the fitting of braces in the child’s teens (if necessary). Get their recommendation for the first soft brush, to double up as a pain-reliever when teeth erupt through the gums. Once the baby teeth are out, all the pre-play of “watch mommy,” the finger-simulation, and Elmo and friends’ dental antics should converge to create a smooth transition to the real thing.

Oral hygiene can be a fun, learning experience.

Parental expectations should align with reality: it is unlikely that kids will get the whole picture. For oral hygiene results that count, mom or dad has to complete the process. In the infancy stages, do not worry about toothpaste. Focus on making a game of it. Continue with the music. Let brushing take on a character of its own – something with a little novelty and a tinge of adventure as the process matures into less parental participation. Kids like to spit haphazardly into the sink and rinse loudly – encourage it. Guide their hand without taking over.

Once past infancy, bring toothpaste into the picture, knowing that this may turn out to be the epitome of trial and error:

  • There are many flavors in the form of paste and gels (start with the latter) and, of course, flavorless. Select a sweetish option to initiate the toothpaste phase and work it out from there. Remember, many children have acute taste issues that can linger for many years. Do not get impatient or discouraged if nothing works after discarding six tubes. Something will eventually fit the bill.
  • The recommended toothpaste measurement is equivalent to a grain of rice for children under three years old, graduating to pea-size dollops for kids ages three to six.
  • Fluoridated toothpaste is recommended for use by children of all ages, and is perfectly safe if swallowed up to pea size.
  • Smooth texture generally beats gritty, and fruity flavors are designed to be kiddy-friendly, but there is no hard-and-fast rule.

If, after all parental effort, brushing is still a trial

Consult our pediatric dentist without hesitation. He or she interacts with hundreds, even thousands of young patients, and the considered recommendations are in hindsight worth more than the dentist’s weight in gold.