Selecting a proper and suitable toothpaste and toothbrush is very important in developing good hygiene habits early.
Recent research shows that 34.3% of children between the ages of 5 and 6 have experienced tooth decay in their baby teeth. The figures are higher again in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The same research suggests that only 68.5% of children between the ages of 5 and 14 brush twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste. There is very strong evidence that fluoride containing toothpastes can prevent decay in teeth in both adults and children.
Australia’s Oral Health Tracker 1st Ed Feb 2018
To help you, here at Highgate Hill Dental Centre we have split this dental piece into two sections:
- A Good Kids’ Toothpaste
- A Good Kids’ Toothbrush.
A Good Kids’ Toothpaste
Choosing a good toothpaste for your child is important in establishing a healthy oral hygiene regime at home for young children and shielding them as much as possible against decay in between dental visits. We get a lot of questions about toothpastes and toothbrushes from parents at the clinic. So we understand that it must be very overwhelming with the number of products on the shelves at the supermarket, so we have prepared a piece to help with the confusion and some more simple dental advice. We’ve broken down some issues for you to consider:
- Fluoride content
Fluoride – How much Fluoride will protect my children’s teeth?
Fluoride has proven to be protective for childrens’ teeth as it increases tooth structure resistance to acids. It makes the teeth stronger against the bacteria and foods that want to attack them.
Most parents worry about dental. Too much fluoride can lead to mild forms of discolouration, resulting in white marks on the permanent teeth, or in more serious forms, can lead to yellow discoloured mottling. The main concern with fluoride in toothpaste is that young children may not understand how to spit out excess toothpaste and may end up swallowing too much. A 2010 Cochrane Review showed that there should be a “balanced consideration between the benefits of topical fluorides in caries prevention” and if the risk of dental fluorosis is of concern, then the use of a toothpaste weaker than 1000 ppm (parts per million) may be indicated in patients below the ages of 5 to 6.
Wong MCM, Glenny A-M, Tsang BWK, Lo ECM, Worthington HV, Marinho VCC. Topical fluoride as a cause of dental fluorosis in children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD007693. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007693.pub2
That is why a lot of the childrens’ toothpastes have differing fluoride dosages according to Australian Dental Association guidelines (which are currently different from the American Dental Association guidelines).
The World Health Organisation and Australian Dental Association recommend children under the age of 6 years should either use:
- 0-6 month old – cleaning the gums and tongue with a clean wet gauze
- 6-18 month old – toothbrushing with just water if the child allows
- 18+ month old – introducing a pea sized amount of low fluoride children’s (550ppm) toothpaste on a children’s toothbrush
- 6+ year old – adult tooth paste may used on the appearance of the first adult teeth
Spencer AJ, The use of Fluorides in Australia: guidelines. ADJ, 2006;51(2):195-9
This is general advice and a dentist visit should be the best determinant whether this advice suits your child. The dentist may deem your child at higher risk of dental decay and adjust the dosage and advice, so it is always good to get personalised advice at your child’s dental checkup.
Flavour – What is it going to taste like to my child?
One of the other determinants whether a toothpaste is suitable is flavour. Children are more likely to use a toothpaste that they like the flavour of and therefore more likely to develop good habits at an early age. Some strong mint flavours of adult toothpastes may feel too “spicy” for young patients. Some children’s toothpaste offers mild mint flavours to introduce patients to the taste, so have a browse through the supermarket aisle and see what may best suit your children, you may have to be patient in finding a toothpaste your child likes though.
Texture – What is it going to feel like to my child?
We would recommend something that has:
- low abrasiveness
- low bubbling
Children tend not to brush with controlled fine motor skill finesse or the correct force that an adult may be able to, so a lightly abrasive toothpaste is enough, as not to “scratch” the enamel.
Bubbles are fun but not always necessary to achieve a good clean. Low bubbling also means that the fluoride does not get lost in the bursting bubbles. Most childrens’ toothpastes have a low foaming formulation.
A Good Kids’ Toothbrush
Advice on what is a good toothbrush is a little simpler. Here are our top things to think about when looking for a new toothbrush for your child. Choose something with:
- a small head
- soft bristles
- a suitable handle so that your child can grip it
- something that will make cleaning more fun
What about an electric toothbrush? Well, electric toothbrushes do not necessarily always provide a better clean for adults or children. Electric toothbrushes are a great encouragement tool, if all else fails, because it acts like a toy that children would be able to “play with” at brushing time.
Regardless of which toothpaste or toothbrush you and your child select, the principles of brushing remain the same:
- Brush twice a day, morning and night
- Create a system for brushing so that it is part of the night time routine
- Children should be supervised with brushing until the age of 8 years
- Spit out at the end of the brush without rinsing, so that the fluoride can do its job
- Flossing is equally important and should be done nightly
- Important to have children get used to the feel of floss, even if their teeth are “gappy”
- Visit your friendly dentist regularly for checkups
On that last note – according to the Australian Oral health Tracker, the percentage of children (5-6 years) that have visited a dentist before the age of 5 is 55.8%. So, if it is time for your checkup, or even if it might be your child’s first dental checkup, call us and make your family checkup appointments today.
Happy Brushing! And we will see you at your next checkup.
About Our Author:
Dr Will Wang:
Dr Will Wang has been a dentist at Highgate Hill Dental Centre since 2008. He aims to make seeing the dentist a positive, happy experience for the whole family, and enjoys making it a fun visit for children. Will has a particular interest in preventative and restorative dentistry; and spends a lot of time explaining concepts to empower patients with the ability to maintain their own dental health between visits.