Role of the Parent
Parents have a key role in helping their children to develop a proper oral hygiene routine in the first years of their life. Parents should lead and supervise their children’s tooth brushing approximately for the first 12 years, until motor and mental functions allow the child to routinely perform a proper tooth brushing technique alone.
After brushing the teeth for their children for the first 2 years of life, parents will have to use playful motivation to encourage their children to brush their own teeth from about 3 years on-wards – the time when children want to brush their teeth alone. Each time the child has finished brushing, parents should re-brush the hard-to-clean areas. At the age of around 6 years, children are able to brush their teeth using a proper brushing technique. In this phase, parents have to continue supervising the regular brushing efforts of their children.
The special anatomical situation of changing dentition makes it indispensable that parents still need to help their children in the daily tooth brushing task until eruption of the second molar (around the age of 12).
Development stages of children from the age 0-12
As soon as the first primary teeth erupt into the oral cavity, parents should begin brushing their children’s teeth. From the age of two years, teeth should be brushed twice daily with smaller than a pea-size amount of children’s toothpaste. Small children tend to swallow a large amount of toothpaste, so that there is a risk of developing dental fluorosis. Supervised application of the amount of toothpaste to the toothbrush is important.
Due to the risk of fluorosis, the fluoride content of toothpaste for children up to the age of 5–7 years was reduced in most European countries (250 ppm to 750 ppm). Beginning with the eruption of the new permanent teeth, children should be switched from a low fluoride containing children’s toothpaste to a higher fluoride containing toothpaste (1000 ppm to 1500 ppm). This ensures the best caries protection as possible for their new permanent teeth.