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Oral care for children

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Healthy teeth are a must not only for a beautiful smile but also the overall health of the person. It is well-known that dental health has long term implications for general health. Therefore, paying special attention to the child’s oral care is laying the foundation for good health for life.

Timeline for dental care

Most parents begin to think of cleaning their child’s mouth only when the teeth become visible. But oral care begins long before that. The following is an approximate timeline for dental care:

  • It is advisable to wipe the baby’s gums gently with a moist washcloth daily even before the teeth come out. This ensures that no plaque remains around the gums.
  • Brushing the teeth should begin as soon as the first tooth erupts.
  • Flossing should begin when there are two teeth that touch which is about age 4.
  • The first dental check-up should be when the child turns two.

Brushing Technique

Inculcating the right brushing technique right from childhood is very important. The best way to teach is by setting example.

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  • The correct way for holding the brush is at a 45˚ angle to the gums.
  • One should begin by cleaning the inner surface of the teeth. This is where plaque collects easily.
  • Then the outer surfaces should be cleaned.
  • Always use a back and forth motion and never rub harshly, use gentle motions.
  • Don’t forget to brush the chewing surfaces of the back teeth as these have pits where plaque can accumulate.
  • This should be followed by brushing the tongue with a light touch.

Creating interest

Normally children find brushing boring and may avoid doing it. It is up to the parent to make it as enjoyable as possible. Small things like asking the child to choose his brush or buying baby toothpaste with a flavor that he likes will encourage him to brush. Besides, it can be made a fun time with the parent.


  • Supervision is a must till the child not only masters it but also understands the importance of brushing properly.
  • Make sure that the child spits out the toothpaste instead of swallowing it. Generally children have learnt to spit out by the time they are two years old.
  • The parent will have to floss the child’s teeth till the child masters it himself.
  • With an infant just a dab of toothpaste is enough. You can begin to use fluoride toothpaste only when the child has learnt to spit out the toothpaste.
  • Always use a soft bristle brush so that the gums are not irritated.

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Additional care

Oral care is not limited to brushing and flossing regularly. Other factors also influence dental health.

  • Eating a healthy diet that is rich in calcium promotes strong teeth.
  • Plaque results from eating sugary and sticky food. It is important to restrict snacking as every exposure increases the chance of decay.
  • Once the child has learnt to spit you can begin to use fluoride toothpaste.
  • Make sure that the child drinks tap water which has fluoride in it. Alternatively, fluoride supplements can be prescribed by the dentist.
  • For children who are especially susceptible to tooth decay, dental sealants are a preventive option.
  • It is important to have regular dental check up of your child as problems can be detected and treated early.
  • Sometimes crooked teeth become a concern. The earlier you consult an orthodontist the better as braces are more effective at a younger age.

 Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: February 03, 2015