Experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released a set of oral hygiene educational materials, Brush Up on Healthy Teeth: Simple Steps for Kidsí Smiles.
These simple instructions assist parents in taking care of their childrenís teeth as well as aid in teaching oral hygiene techniques. Proper dental practices such as drinking fluoridated water and brushing with a only a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste can greatly improve oral health in children. Fluoride works by stopping or even reversing tooth decay.
"Beginning oral health care in infancy, along with the proper use of fluoride, reduces the risk of tooth decay and improves overall health," said Dr. William R. Maas, Director of the CDCís Division of Oral Health. "There are effective measures that parents can take that are safe, effective and simple, but itís important that parents understand oral health and begin early."
The CDC recommends the following Simple Steps for Kidsí Smiles:
- Start cleaning teeth early
When the first tooth appears, clean it by wiping with a clean, damp cloth every day. When more teeth eventually come in, switch to a small, soft toothbrush. When the child is two years old, begin using toothpaste with fluoride. If your childís doctor or dentist recommends it, use toothpaste with fluoride earlier.
- Use the right amount of fluoride toothpaste.
Fluoride is important in fighting cavities. But too much fluoride can lead to teeth with white spots. To keep this from happening, use only a pea size amount of toothpaste. Also, teach your child to spit out the toothpaste and to rinse well after brushing.
- Supervise brushing.
Brush your childís teeth twice a day until your child can handle the toothbrush alone. Then, continue to closely watch brushing to make sure your child using only a small amount of toothpaste and has the proper toothbrush techniques to maintain good oral hygiene without your instructions.
- Talk to your childís dentist.
Check with the dentist to determine if your child has specific fluoride needs. After age two, most children get the right amount of fluoride to help prevent cavities if they drink water that contains fluoride and brush their teeth with a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Parents of children over the age of six months should ask about the need for a fluoride supplement if drinking water does not have enough fluoride. Also, do not allow a child younger than six years old use a fluoride mouth rinse unless the childís doctor or dentist recommends it.