Your child depends on you to care for his or her oral health needs for at least the first several years of life. Like all parents, you want to get into a routine early that will prevent tooth decay and other common problems as your child grows. If this is your first child or you have not had a baby for several years, you may need some tips on how to get started with tooth brushing. In fact, one of the most common questions new parents ask our Long Beach dentist is how much toothpaste they should use.
American Dental Association Recommendations
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), parents should apply approximately a smear of toothpaste to a child-sized toothbrush from the time a child receives his or her first tooth until age three. This is about the size of a grain of rice. Prior to the eruption of the first teeth, parents should wipe the inside of the baby’s mouth with a damp cloth after feeding to prevent the spread of bacteria.
From ages three to six, the ADA advises parents to use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on their child’s toothbrush. This amount is enough to get the teeth clean while limiting the amount of fluoride a child might ingest by swallowing it. It is a normal developmental milestone for kids to swallow toothpaste rather than spit it out when learning to care for their teeth. The ADA also recommends that parents and caregivers supervise children while brushing their teeth until they have matured enough to spit the toothpaste out, rinse their mouth, and use dental floss independently.
Once your child reaches the approximate age of seven or can brush his or her teeth independently, it is okay to use as much toothpaste as an adult. This is typically enough to cover the toothbrush in a single line. You are welcome to contact your Long Beach dentist at any time if you need additional tips on children’s oral hygiene.
Other Recommendations from Your Long Beach Dentist
Even when your child gains more independence with tooth brushing, he or she may rush through the job. Ideally, both children and adults should brush their teeth for a minimum of two minutes at least two times per day followed immediately by flossing. Two minutes can seem like a long time to a kid who would rather be playing, so consider setting a timer and helping your child come up with fun ways to pass the time while completing an important job.
When choosing toothpaste for your child, make sure that it contains fluoride to help strengthen the teeth. Your Long Beach dentist also provides fluoride treatments to children on a regular schedule when they become pediatric dentistry patients at FUNtastic Dental.
Even though your child’s first set of teeth fall out to make room for the permanent adult teeth, we urge you to take excellent care of them. Baby teeth that experience too much decay can fall out prematurely or require extraction, a problem that can affect future tooth alignment. Set the example early in your child’s life of eating healthy, nutritious food and taking great care of your own teeth. Feel free to contact us with additional questions or to schedule an appointment.