These do a MUCH better job than standard tooth brushes. Talk to your child's dentist about when to switch over to electric toothbrushes (typically this is after 3 years of age). Our dentist highly recommended Philips Sonicare Children's Electric Toothbrushes, one for each kid since their germs and strep bacteria etc can collect under the removable brush part, so he advised against letting kids share the electric base and simply swapping the heads). The kids' Philips Sonicare toothbrush comes in blue or pink with 8 decorative wraps to swap out. It also has a fun free interactive app that helps kids get motivated and enjoy brushing! It retails for $39.95 - 49.95 but we found it on sale for $29.95, so shop around especially at big sales times like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
For babies and toddlers who can't use electric toothbrushes yet, we love the MAM toothbrushes which include a protective shield! Toothpaste with fluoride is best, but not great if being swallowed. For younger toddlers, only use the amount of a grain of rice. Around age 3-6 you can increase to a pea-size amount (best not to swallow but fine if they do). Our kids love the ACT Bubble Gum!
Did you realize your kids should be flossing!? I didn't, until my first child had a ton of cavities revealed at his first dental x-ray!! We immediately ran out and bought children's flossers which were a game changer - while they are wasteful and I do feel bad about that, they're super easy to use and our kids love them! I usually let them floss themselves and then I do it as well, especially between the back molars where the teeth are tight and it's harder for them to be sure they get down in between the teeth.
We just moved out of the city where we had fluoridated water and hadn't been using mouth wash but now we don't have fluoride in our water and our kids' new dentist just recommended mouth wash, which our kids are LOVING! We got the ACT bubble gum flavor mouthwash, you squeeze the bottle and it fills up the right dosage in the top! We then pour it into washable/reusable plastic cups so our kids don't swap germs in the bottle. They have a few flavors to choose from, have fun trying them all!
Avoid the following (children and adults):
- sticky sugary foods (of course candy but also "healthier" ones like dried fruit and even gummy vitamins! but if you must with this stuff, have it with a meal and then brush / floss afterwards)
- hard candy (the sugar is in the mouth too long)
- gum (unless xylitol, which actually helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease)
- juice and any drinks with sugar, citrus ones being the worst for teeth
- soda (even "diet" sugar-free ones as the carbonation allows plaque to produce more enamel attacking acid)
Children and adults alike should be going in for twice a year dental checkups and cleanings. But when to start? Children should go in for their first checkup by age 2, or sooner if you like! That early on, it's more about getting the child comfortable. Most pediatric dentists will have you hold the little one in your lap, and make it really fun and relaxed. They'll likely want to take x-rays by age 6, to make sure all adult teeth are accounted for, teeth are lining up nicely, and there are no abnormalities to worry about. Later on they'll keep an eye out for soft spots and things that can be corrected before needing the dreaded filling, or worse! Here's my 7 year old son's panorama x-ray from his latest checkup, pretty cool right!? The checkups are so important for staying on top of your child's dental health - the dentist will make sure you're doing all of the above things and make recommendations based on what's going on with their teeth, and allow you to ask questions about any concerns you may have!