Some things never change.
But when it comes to your dental health, adapting your habits as you age is crucial for a lifetime of healthy smiling!
Brushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, and flossing tools can often be marketed towards children, but are they any different than what we use as adults?
So, let’s go through the best dental hygiene tips for your kids, no matter their age!
Dental Hygiene for Infants
Your new addition to the family might not have sprouted their first tooth, but that doesn’t mean their teeth are not there!
In fact, babies are born with a complete set of teeth underneath the gum line, ready to erupt when their time comes.
If you want an approximation, you can expect newborns to get their first tooth around the age of 6 months, but there are plenty of dental hygiene practices you should be aware of before this point!
For the first year, your child will most likely be fed milk and/or formula. After feeding, it is important to always wipe down your infant’s gums with a cloth moistened with water.
Gently massaging the gum tissue during this age helps to deter inflammation caused by bacteria. This action will also come in handy at about 4 months when babies can start teething (we recommend using cold water at this pivotal moment, as it will help to ease their pain).
However, don’t consider this pain to be a detrimental stage in their life. We all have growing pains sooner or later, and teething is a natural process moving towards your child’s first tooth.
Once you notice a tooth emerge, you can start using a soft-bristled toothbrush designed for infants. It was once recommended for parents to use fluoride-free toothpaste, however, if you’re using less than a grain of rice worth of toothpaste you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
If you are concerned about your infant’s fluoride intake, you can lean your child forward during brushing to let any excess toothpaste dribble out of their mouth.
Hygiene Tips for Toddlers
Around 30 months of age, your toddler will likely be smiling with all their primary (baby or deciduous) teeth in place!
While this is certainly an exciting event for parents, it is also a sign that your child should be brushing with more toothpaste (roughly the pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste).
At this stage, children will also start gaining the ability to spit, decreasing the likelihood of swallowing toothpaste. However, be mindful of using flavoured brands.
Flavoured toothpaste can certainly help entertain the notion of your child brushing themselves, but stress the importance of never swallowing your toothpaste, no matter how good it may taste.
Also, it is worth mentioning that with more teeth in a mouth, plaque-causing bacteria have more places to nestle and do damage. Flossing should start when your child has any two teeth touching each other, but most children will need help until the age of 8 or 10.
Dental Tips for Teens
At this point, you’ll be happy to know that pretty much all teens can take care of their own teeth. However, this doesn’t mean they are doing a good job.
Plenty of upbeat young adults will go about their fun-filled lives, missing a brushing or two along the way. While it may not be the biggest issue to them, as dentists, we can tell when our patients have been skipping their daily routines.
As a parent, you can help them remember by telling them to set alarms on their phones, or by mentioning their breath/hygiene.
We have spoken about it before, but teenagers are usually obsessed with looks and trying to fit in. While we need to teach our children confidence in their own skin, it is alright to use this natural tendency as leverage to increase their dental hygiene frequency.
General Dental Tips for Any Age
Now that we have age specifics out of the way, we can talk strictly about brushing techniques and random facts that you may have not known about ageing teeth.
- Using both manual and electric toothbrushes can provide an overall better clean than just using one or the other.
- Proper brushing technique not only reduces plaque build-up, but also helps to massage gums, lowering inflammation and infection. To get the most out of your brushing routine, your bristles should be at a 45° angle from your gumline, ensuring contact on your gum tissue and teeth. Brush away from the gum line in a rolling motion downwards 2-3 times for each tooth touched.
- As you age, your enamel will become thinner revealing the yellow dentin layer beneath. This does NOT mean you aren’t brushing properly. It is the natural progression of our teeth as we age.
- Only a fraction of your mouth is your teeth. Adding mouthwash to your oral care routine helps to reduce mouth bacteria found on your tongue, cheeks, and gums!
Want to Learn More?
Education surrounding dental health is always evolving as we uncover more and more about our mouth’s role in our greater health.
Because of this, we as dentists are always learning too! For more resources on your child’s oral health and hygiene, head over to our blog or FAQ page, filled with learning material for parents and your little one.
Or, if your family prefers hands-on-learning, book an appointment to visit Treehouse Dental Care today.
We always look forward to chatting about healthy smiles!