The Dental Essentials for New Parents

Our Oral Health Therapists Jamie and Liv have put their heads together to give you the answers to the most frequently asked questions they receive from new parents.

What age should I begin brushing my child’s teeth?

We recommend that parents begin to brush their infant’s teeth from the moment the first tooth appears (approx 6-8 months). Refer to our section below on How to get my child used to a brushing routine for more information.

Although to some parents this may seem a little early there are 2 main reasons we recommend this:

  • Sugars in their milk and food (both natural and artificial) cause dental caries on baby teeth. Brushing the plaque off daily helps prevent dental decay and caries from occurring.
  • It is never too early to start the good dental habits of a lifetime. The sooner your little one gets used to ‘tooth brushing’ being a part of their routine the better this sets them up for a lifetime of good oral health care.

Whilst it is good to empower your baby and let them ‘have a go’, up to the age of 18 month mums and dads should be the primary brusher of their child’s teeth. This should be done at least once a day after their last meal/bottle for the day and before they sleep.

What type of toothbrush is it best to use when they first start brushing? How much toothpaste should I use?

Tooth brushing is an important defense against tooth decay in children

Be sure to use the appropriate infant toothpastes as they have a lower concentration of fluoride than adult versions.

Always use a soft bristled toothbrush and one with a smaller head will be better for little mouths. Look at the packaging advice as toothbrush sizes changes a lot in early childhood – just as children’s mouths grow quickly.

Using the soft brush you only need a pea sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste that is suitable for their age. Before the age of 18 months we recommend you use water and then move onto a child toothpaste after this age.

Be sure to use the appropriate infant toothpastes as they have a lower concentration of fluoride than adult versions. Gently massage the toothpaste into their teeth and gums to clear away any harmful bacteria and leave a protective layer of fluoride on their teeth.

What do you think about electric toothbrushes for children? What age can these be used from?

We think electric toothbrushes are a great option for kids after the age of 2. Kids find electric toothbrushes easy to use and they can be quite effective. If you are looking at electric toothbrushes for your child then ideally buy one that has an in-built 2 minute timer.

The technique of using an electric toothbrush is different to that of a manual toothbrush so if you are considering changing over then we recommend you do this around the time of a dental appointment so that the dentist or oral health therapist can teach your child how to best do this and give them the appropriate brushing tips.

If your child is a ‘reluctant brusher’ then electric toothbrushes often provide kids with a fun novelty factor to boost your child’s interest in brushing their teeth. Tooth brushing time needn’t be a battle for parents and in many cases it is about finding a way to make it fun for your child.

How do I get my child used to a brushing routine?

Tooth decay in children - causes, preventions and treatments from Adelaide Quality Dental

Don’t force them – this will lead to reluctance in the future. It is better to take your time and go slow and steady.

It is important to establish a brushing routine with your child from an early age to prevent any difficulties.

One tip we give new parents is to introduce their baby (who doesn’t have teeth yet) to the sensation of a clean, wet cloth run across their gums. Doing this will allow your baby to become familiar with this routine and sensation.

Then once their child’s first tooth erupts they can ‘graduate’ to an age appropriate toothbrush.

Introducing toothpaste at 18 months can sometimes be a difficult transition due to the new and different texture and taste of the toothpaste. You can introduce this with just a little amount at a time and try different toothpastes as they have different flavours.

If they don’t like toothpaste initially, make sure you still brush with water and try a little bit of toothpaste again at the next sitting.

Other tips to encourage good brushing routines with your little one include:

  • Letting them watch you brush your teeth – play follow the leader in choosing whether you both brush the top or bottom teeth
  • Get them to brush one of their toy’s teeth – they can turn into little parents and tell their teddy how important it is to brush their teeth everyday!
  • Don’t force them – this will lead to reluctance in the future. It is better to take your time and go slow and steady.

How do I brush and floss my child’s teeth?

We recommend that parents always have a turn brushing their child’s tooth until the age of 10. Brush in small, gentle circles using a soft bristled toothbrush tilted at a 45 degree angle from the gum line.

You might like to stand behind your child with both of you looking into the mirror – this gives your child the opportunity to watch and learn what you are doing.

Flossing is another important technique for kids to learn and practice from a young age. We will teach how to floss at their dental appointment but this is best reinforced by watching mum and dad floss their own teeth on a regular basis as well.

When should my child first visit the dentist?

From the time your child’s first tooth erupts we recommend regular dental visits for you and your child. Not only can we keep an eye out for any potential problems, these appointments allow us to teach and reinforce good habits. This teaching is for parents as well – we will arm you with all the advice and tips to best care for your child’s teeth.

Call Adelaide Quality Dental on 08 8346 3940 to book your child’s appointment with one of our friendly dentists or oral health therapists . Alternatively book your appointment and bring them along for a ‘ride in the dental chair’.