When to start using toothpaste for kids?
Every parent wants his or her child to have a beautiful and a healthy smile.
ECC (Early childhood caries) is one of the most prevalent chronic childhood disease that is preventable. It not just causes aesthetic difficulties for the child but also causes pain and discomfort which prevents the child from eating food properly. It also lowers the self confidence of the child. Children miss a lot of school days just because of toothache caused by the early childhood caries.
If something causing so much trouble can be prevented then why not to prevent it at the first place.
1 out of every 5 kids, tend to get a cavity before they even enter kindergarten says a survey.
Brushing twice a day is just not sufficient. Using a good age appropriate toothpaste that doesn’t just clean the surface of the teeth but also protects it from the cavities is the key.
When should we start brushing baby’s teeth?
Brushing of baby teeth should start as soon as the first tooth erupts in the baby’s mouth.
Cleaning of baby’s gums and tongue should start as soon as the baby is born. This helps in keeping the baby’s mouth clean as well as creating a habit which will help the child to start brushing his or her teeth early without any tantrums or repulsion. Use a damp clean cotton cloth wrapped around your finger and gently clean the gums and tongue in a circular motion.
Once the teeth start to erupt use a silicone finger brush and slowly shift to a normal kids age appropriate toothbrush along with a grain size of kids age appropriate toothpaste.
When should a child start using a toothpaste?
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the sooner the better. A toothpaste cleans the surface of the tooth and if it has fluoride in it, it even protects the tooth from cavities.
The AAPD recommends the use of toothpaste for any child, who is above the age of 6 months. As, the dental visits are less prevalent among the children, it is important for the parents to at least help kids maintain a good oral hygiene at home.
There have been many doubts among the parents to use either a fluoridated toothpaste or a non fluoridated toothpaste.
What does fluoridated toothpaste do?
Fluoride is a mineral found even in water. It helps in forming a protective layer over the surface of enamel of the tooth and thus preventing the acid attack and therefore preventing cavities.
There are a lot of means by which fluoride can be used for prevention of cavities. Water fluoridation, topical application like fluoride varnishes, fluoridated toothpastes and mouthwashes, all help in preventing cavities. Some studies also show the use of topical fluoride application can sometimes cause the dental caries in the initial stages to stop progressing any further.
But excess intake of fluoride causes fluorosis which is also not a good sign. White spots over the surface of the tooth can be a sign of fluorosis.
Appropriate amount of toothpaste
AAPD recommends on using an appropriate amount of kids age appropriate fluoridated toothpaste since the eruption of the first tooth of the child i.e. after the age of 6 months.
- Till the age of 3 years– Use a smear i.e. a grain (rice) size of kids age appropriate fluoridated toothpaste twice a day.
- After the age of 3 years– Use a pea size of kids age appropriate fluoridated toothpaste twice a day.
Toothpaste used in the correct amount does not cause any problems to the child even if it is swallowed. In case a large amount is swallowed the child might get a stomach upset and a pediatrician should be consulted as soon as possible.
Trick- To prevent your child from swallowing the toothpaste you can tilt the child’s head downwards and let the toothpaste and the water flow out.
To help a child develop good oral hygiene habits it is the responsibility of both the parents to help develop the habit early. Habits formed early are more easy to follow and difficult to change. So good habits are what are important to be incorporated in the child’s life as early as can be.