Brushing the teeth is an important aspect of promoting and maintaining good oral and dental health. As soon as baby’s first teeth begin to erupt, it is natural for us parents to start looking for ways in which we can best take care of their growing teeth. The toothpaste that young children use to brush their teeth has a very important role to play in the care of toddlers’ teeth. As such, it is crucial for us to choose only the best and most appropriate toothpaste for our toddlers. Not to worry as we’ve managed to come up with the 6 best toddler toothpastes that you may want to give to your child.
A Closer Look at Your Toddler’s Developing Teeth
Most of us parents are already familiar with the signs of teething – one of the most anticipated developmental milestones of any baby. While most of us believe that younger babies don’t have any teeth yet, the fact of the matter is that they already have a complete set of 20 deciduous or young tooth buds that are still hidden underneath the gums. Taking care of your child’s teeth actually depends on how well you understand teeth development in children. Here are some of the more important things that you need to understand.
- The first teeth to erupt are the two central incisors located in the front of the lower jaw, typically occurring between 6 and 10 months.
- The second pair of tooth that erupts is the two central incisors of the upper jaw which typically occur around 8 and 13 months.
- Once both upper and lower central incisors have erupted, the teeth beside them called the lateral incisors can begin to show, usually around 8 and 16 months.
- The fourth set of teeth to erupt is the upper and lower molars which usually show by around 13 to 19 months.
- By the age of 16 months up to 23 months, your child’s canine or ‘fangs’ start to erupt.
- The last to erupt are the second row of molars, occurring between 25 and 33 months.
It is thus, safe to say that toddlers will already have the complete set of 20 deciduous, milk, temporary, or primary teeth by the time they reach their 3rd year.
Things to Look for in the Right Toothpaste for Toddlers
Based on what we have presented so far, toddlers require a special kind of toothpaste that may be far different from the ones that we use as adults. This is due to the fact that their teeth are primarily deciduous or temporary and are a bit different from the structure of our teeth. As such, it is imperative that we know how to choose the right toothpaste for them. Here are a few things that you need to look for in the right toothpaste for toddlers.
- Fluoride, if able to spit; fluoride-free if still unable to spit
Fluoride is a substance that is very important in the development of healthier and stronger teeth. This substance is needed in strengthening the outermost protective layer of the teeth, making it hard to break. This also makes it impermeable to the acids and other substances that are produced by bacteria and other microorganisms that reside in the oral cavity as well as the acids and other highly corrosive substances found in foods and drinks. Without fluoride, the temporary teeth of toddlers can be especially vulnerable to the development of tooth decay. That is why it is imperative that the toothpaste that we choose for our toddlers to use must contain fluoride.
Unfortunately, there is a catch. If your toddler ingests too much of fluoride from his or her toothpaste, he or she is actually more prone to the development of brown or white discolorations on his or her teeth that have not erupted yet. This condition is known in the medical and dental community as fluorosis. While it does not pose any threat to the function or overall integrity of the teeth, it can be a source of anxiety both for the growing child and for the parent. A child who may notice streaks of faint white or brownish lines on his or her teeth may become overly conscious about its appearance. It should be understood that fluorosis only affects teeth that have not erupted yet. Once teeth have already broken through the gums, fluorosis no longer develops.
Given the fact that fluorosis occurs while teeth are still within the gums, it is recommended by the American Dental Association that fluoride-free toothpaste should be given to children who are not yet able to spit the liquid they use to rinse their mouth after brushing their teeth. This is to help reduce the amount of fluoride that children can accidentally ingest. This is especially true if your child is also drinking from a water source that is already fluoridated. Using fluoride toothpaste can only increase the levels of fluoride present in the child’s system if he or she is still unable to spit.
As such, as a matter of rule, if your toddler is still unable to spit, then you have to choose non-fluoridated or fluoride-free toothpaste. Otherwise, if your child can already spit the fluid in his or her mouth, then fluoride toothpaste is the answer. However, it is important to understand that there are also other sources of fluoride. Tap water and dental applications are two of these.
- Kid-friendly flavors
While adults may relish in cool minty flavors, the same may not hold true for young kids, especially toddlers who may have not yet fully developed the knack for a variety of tastes or flavors. Naturally, we want them to love brushing their teeth and one of the most effective ways you can ensure this is by giving them something that they love. Toddlers and other young children have a natural tendency for sweet flavors. That’s why strawberries, watermelon, and other sweet fruity tastes often work. However, it is more important to run through the different flavors that are available and let your child choose which among these he or she likes best. You may have to buy different flavor variants until your toddler can decide on which toothpaste he or she would like to use. It may incur some additional expense, but if you can get your child to have a more pleasant and really enjoyable teeth-brushing experience, then it’s all worth it.
- No harmful ingredients
You can always go the all-natural route. However, you have to read the fine lines as even toothpastes that have been labeled as containing all-natural ingredients tend to have other substances that may be incorporated into the paste. Examples of things that you need to be wary of include artificial coloring agents, preservatives, and even certain artificial flavorings that may be detrimental to your kid’s health in the long run. While these substances are commonly found in products that we use as adults, our anatomy and physiology is inherently different from that of our kids. These substances may be safe for us, but the same may not be true for children, especially the younger ones.
How to Develop Healthy Oral and Dental Health Habits for Your Tots
It is one thing to choose the right toothpaste for your toddler and it’s another thing to actively encourage and promote correct oral hygiene for kids. It is important to recognize the mutual relationship between oral health and general health; that a problem in one can lead to an issue in the other, and vice versa. As parents, it is up to us to help our young kids develop healthy oral and dental health habits. Here are some tips.
- Make brushing the teeth an enjoyable experience for them. Try to play fun music while your toddler is brushing his or her teeth. You can choose children’s songs that last 2 minutes to serve as a timer for your kid’s brushing. Integrate some boogie dance moves while brushing.
- Consider using modern technology such as an electric toothbrush to help encourage your toddler to brush his or her teeth. There are a variety of devices and gadgets that actually motivate young children to brush and care for their dentition. These are often integrated as playtime activities.
- Be a good role model for them. Toddlers already love to imitate. If they see you brushing your teeth the correct way, they will be more than encouraged and motivated to do the same thing. You can schedule a teeth-brushing time together.
- Establish a routine. While most toddlers hate having a routine, if you structure it enough that tots will associate it with something that they love, then the routine can be something that they’ll be looking forward to.
- Watch what you’re giving to your kids. Young children still deserve all the sweets and the goodies they love. However, you can set limits to how much they eat or teach them to brush their teeth right after eating these treats. If such is not possible, then you will have to teach them to always drink water to wash away food debris.
- Create a brushing calendar. Toddlers love to see their accomplishments. If they see they are steadily progressing towards their goal for the week or even the month, they’d be more motivated to keep on doing what they have already started.
- Design a positive reinforcement system. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Just a simple way to acknowledge your tot’s accomplishments should be enough.
- Don’t forget to get your toddler his or her first dental visit by the time he or she reaches the 1styear of his or her life. This way you can also be assisted by your dentist on what you can do to better care for your tot’s growing teeth while also encouraging him or her to begin observing healthy dental habits.
It is important to understand that young children especially babies and toddlers have very unique needs and special requirements when it comes to caring for their developing teeth. Using the right toothpaste and teaching them to develop healthy dental habits early in their lives are a must if we want to see them growing up with excellent oral and dental health.