Parents’ guide to caring for your child’s teeth
Taking care of your little one’s teeth can feel like a big responsibility- from that first milk tooth coming through. But just like for adults, if you get into a good routine and create healthy mouth habits, you can help your kids’ teeth stay strong and healthy.
Why milk teeth need extra care
This is the first set of teeth that babies grow, which usually start coming through around 6 to 12 months old. Though they may seem tough, the enamel on these precious little teeth is 50% thinner than adult teeth. This makes them more susceptible to tooth decay from sugary foods. But with a good diet and regular brushing, you can make sure those milk teeth get the care they need.
Around this time, your baby will start eating foods other than breast milk or formula. This is an exciting step, but also important to think about how certain foods and drinks can lead to tooth decay. Try to avoid giving them anything high in sugar at this early stage. Then at bedtime, after brushing, stick to water as any sugars can be turned into acids that can eat away at their teeth during the night.
Brushing tips for tiny teeth
- Once their first tooth has made its way through, it’s time to start a brushing routine with your child. You can sit them on your lap so it’s easier to get to their mouth (and stop them wriggling).
- Kids under three should only use a smear of children’s toothpaste, moving onto a pea-sized amount when they’re older. Choosing a specially developed kid’s toothpaste like Aquafresh Milk Teeth or Aquafresh Little Teeth will help make sure their teeth are protected, and they have child-friendly flavours designed to help make brush time easier.
- Once that first tooth comes through, it’s time to book in that first visit to the dentist. Regular check-ups will help make sure everything is growing the way it should. And as tooth decay can happen faster with milk teeth, it will give your dentist the chance to spot any possible problems before any damage is done.
- By age three, a full set of milk teeth should be fully in place. Helping to shape their mouth for permanent teeth, and even guide them into position. It will be a while yet until any of these precious milk teeth start to fall out and their permanent teeth start to come through. Keeping this first set healthy is key to paving the way for their permanent teeth to come through straight and to stay healthy once they do.
Moving onto their adult teeth
Around age five or six, your child’s permanent teeth will start to come through – causing their 20 milk teeth to one by one wobble away and be replaced with much larger and stronger adult teeth. Brushing during this time can be tricky, with a mixture of big teeth, small teeth and gaps in between. Which is why there are a range of specialised tooth care products to help make brushing easier. And the magic of the tooth fairy is also sure to keep a smile on their face.
General brushing advice for kids
- Once they have a full set of teeth, the basic advice is always the same. Brush twice a day for at least two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste. And once any two teeth are touching, it’s good to start cleaning between them as well.
- There’s lots of advice on how to brush teeth, but one widely recommended way is to brush each tooth in a gentle circular motion. Making sure you clean every surface, including fronts, tops and backs. Getting right up to the gum line so no plaque can hide away.
- Your child’s mouth will change and grow as they do. It can help to use a toothbrush and toothpaste that’s appropriate for their stage in life, like our Aquafresh range of specially developed kid’s tooth care products.
- After brushing, encourage them to spit not rinse. That way, more of the fluoride from the toothpaste stays in the mouth where it can continue to protect their teeth. Avoid them swallowing toothpaste as far as possible.
- Try to bring fun to brushing so it doesn’t feel like something they don’t want to do. Like when they tilt their head back and open wide, ask them to pretend to be a hippo or a lion. Then when they’re brushing by themselves, you can get them to brush along with our free Aquafresh Brush Time app.
- Until your child is able to brush properly by themselves, usually around age seven or older, you should always watch them while they brush. Making sure they get the job done and don’t swallow anything they shouldn’t. Keep toothpastes and mouthwash out of reach of little hands.
A healthy mouth starts at home with you. If you help your kids get into good eating habits and good brushing habits early on, their tiny teeth will turn into a sparkling smile down the road.