Milk teeth are as important as adult teeth

Between the ages of 4 and 12, children form important habits and perceptions that will serve as a foundation to most of their adult decisions. If a child doesn’t learn proper oral hygiene at this age, there is a fair chance they will have dental problems later in life.

Why do children suffer from caries so often?

It is important to know that the enamel layer on milk teeth is just half as thick as that compared to adult teeth. Also, dental mass in milk teeth is less mineralised. Therefore it is much easier for milk teeth to decay rapidly when neglected. In cases of insufficient oral hygiene, the bacteria colonies grow and are able to turn leftover sugar from food into acids that are aggressive towards the enamel.

The thin layer of enamel is easily disrupted this way, and over quite a short period of time it leads to the development of a cavity. This process is usually completely pain-free and so can easily go unnoticed. By the time the pain occurs, it is too late to prevent cavities – at this point the damage is done in the deeper layers of teeth.

In today’s world it’s really hard to go completely sugar-free. That’s why proper oral care is the key to maintaining good health of milk teeth.

Parents should focus on maintaining the health of their children’s milk teeth primarily through regular and proper toothbrushing, and secondly through cutting down the sugary contents of their child’s diet to a reasonable extent. Many everyday products are rich in sugar.

In today’s world it’s really hard to go completely sugar-free. That’s why proper oral care is the key to maintaining good health of milk teeth. The golden rule is to brush one’s teeth at least twice a day, properly, and to visit a dentist at least once a year. Provided that the diet of your child is balanced, it is absolutely okay to have a slice of cake or some chocolate occasionally, as long as your child brushes their teeth thoroughly in the morning and before going to bed.

Did you know?

The milk molars are all replaced by the adult premolars by the age of 13. The third molars, known as wisdom teeth, start to appear closer to adult age between 17 and 21 years. Once these teeth are visible, there will be a total of 32 adult teeth, 16 on the top and 16 on the bottom.

The timeline of teeth

Most children lose all their milk teeth by the age of 12. It is very important to protect the milk teeth from decay during the transition from milk teethto permanent teeth, because any decay or issues with a milk tooth can be passed onto the permanent tooth taking its place. The back teeth in particular are in the greatest danger of developing cavities, because they are much harder to reach and properly clean.

It is also important to know that the first adult (permanent) tooth that appears is not in the front of the mouth, it is at the back behind the last milk tooth, and is called the first molar. Therefore, it does not displace any milk teeth. The first one usually erupts before a child’s sixth birthday, and eventually there will be four of these molars – two on the top and two on the bottom.

How to prevent teeth from decaying during the transition from milk to adult teeth?

The most important things when it comes to prevention are: proper brushing, regular appointments with the dentist – once a year, or more frequently if needed – and reasonable sugar intake. The best everyday prevention is to brush regularly, at least twice a day, with a proper toothbrush and suitable toothpaste. 

Although it is often omitted, it is also essential to take care of the tiny interdental spaces. There are many helpful instruments for this – specifically interdental brushes, which can serve as an effective cleaning tool when handling the oral hygiene of even the youngest children. Learn more about interdental brushing in our detailed guide.

When is the best time for a child to start brushing? 

As a baby: you should start gently cleaning your child’s teeth the moment they start to appear. Use a soft damp cloth to wipe teeth and gums, or a Curaprox baby toothbrush specifically designed for this task.

Around the age of 2.5 – 3: this is the age your child should have their first attempts at brushing independently. This is when you as a parent need to show them the proper technique and make sure your child develops the right brushing habits. The important thing during this time is to be supportive. Don’t forget the “second clean” – to clean your kid’s teeth yourself, after they have first tried to clean them. They will learn over time to brush more efficiently themselves, but at this stage it is important to keep their teeth clean with your help.

From the age of 7 – 9: at this age your child may already be conscious enough to follow their own routines and brush independently. But more often, they will still need your help. Supervised teeth cleaning is desirable and important until puberty. You can do it through regular monitoring and continued encouragement. It is also important that you continue to lead by example. The routine your child needs to see is that the entire family brushes their teeth twice a day, every day, no exception.

From the age of 9 – 12: at this age your child already knows how to brush properly but is often distracted and unmotivated to do so. It is advised to check the quality of the brushing as often as possible. Also, it is very helpful to talk to children regularly and explain to them what exactly could happen when they neglect the proper oral care routine. At this age, kids are capable of a deeper understanding of the importance of good oral care and it is possible to discuss this topic with them and motivate them to care for their health every day.

What’s the proper brushing technique for children?

The technique is the same as with adults: soft and small circular motions covering both the teeth and gums, on one jaw at a time. It is important to focus on each row of teeth separately – big circular motions over both jaws are not effective.

As you teach this technique, start by brushing your child’s teeth yourself – that way you’ll show your child how to do it properly. Then give them more freedom and let your child start brushing on their own. Learning how to master the soft circular motions may take a little more time and skill, but it’s proven to be much more effective. Don’t forget to clean interdental spaces too, with the easy in-and-out motion of an interdental brush.

Make sure that your child’s brush meets these simple requirements:

  • Has soft or ultra-soft bristles. Medium or hard bristles are a definite no. Hard, low-density bristles create an unpleasant brushing sensation, which causes stress and makes brushing less enjoyable and less effective, which affects your child’s habits later in life.  
  • Has the bristles densely packed (at least 5,000 bristles per brush head).
  • Has a small brush head and a well-designed handle – the ideal is a narrow, octagonal handle, which is comfortable to hold and aids proper brushing. 
  • Is completely made of health-safe materials and does not contain any harmful substances.

How to choose the right brush for small mouths and hands?

When choosing the proper brush for your child, bear in mind that it should be easy to use and functional at the same time. Special kids brushes are designed for the specific anatomical needs of smaller mouths and hands. They are safer to use due to the smaller brush heads, and are gentle to gums and enamel thanks to soft and dense filaments. A smaller brush is also more comfortable to hold and navigate in the mouth.

Search for a toothpaste to fall in love with

A proper kids toothpaste should be gentle yet effective. And on the top of that – a bit fun. Different levels of fluoride to meet the needs of different age groups, various tasty flavours, and carefully chosen ingredients for healthy development of the milk and first adult teeth are all a must. 

The recommended amount of fluoride in toothpaste for children:

  • first teeth up to 2 years: 500 ppm
  • 2 to 6 years: 1,000(+) ppm
  • 6+ years: 1,450 ppm

Source: European Academy of Paediatric Dentistry

What’s inside? 

All Curaprox toothpastes are made with only the good stuff: no SLS, triclosan or microplastics. The Curaprox kids toothpaste is full of beneficial ingredients that provide your children’s teeth with great properties for cleaning, strenghtening the enamel, and supporting the natural protecting function of saliva:

  • Enzymes help your child’s saliva protect the enamel.
  • Xylitol has a mild antibacterial effect and brings a hint of natural sweetness into the paste.
  • Natural flavorings – fruity strawberry, juicy watermelon or mild mint – let your kid decide.
  • Fluoride is a key element in remineralising the enamel and strengthening teeth. The only situation you would go with zero fluoride is if your doctor specifically recommends such a toothpaste based on your child’s individual condition.

My child refuses to brush. What can I do?

You want to teach your child how to take care of their teeth properly. But sometimes it can be a real struggle, and there just seems to be no will from their side. Don’t despair! It may take a bit more time, but you’ll get there in the end, and the final result is both very important and very satisfying. Lets take a look at various ways to help your child learn to love brushing:

? Enjoyable and regular routines

Your child needs to brush their teeth twice a day: in the morning and before going to bed. This ritual should be enjoyable and pleasant so your child has no reason to skip. To support the good atmosphere in bathroom, you can use your child’s favourite music and play games. 

As a parent, you absolutely have to lead by example, demonstrating disciplined brushing twice every day. However busy or tired you are, your child has to see that you never skip your own brushings.

? Agency in brushing

Children have been found to perform better when they feel control over what they do. For example, when a child picks out their own toothbrush, they are more likely to use it regularly then when a brush is picked out for them. The same goes for toothpaste. Giving your child a choice gives them a powerful incentive to form a healthy dental habit. So next time you choose your dental products in a store or online, ask your child which colour of brush they prefer or what flavour toothpaste they want. 

? Leading by example

If a parent sticks to a healthy brushing ritual, their children are more likely to follow suit. For most of us as adults, any reluctant brushing is a result of childhood experiences: when our parents forced us to brush with unpleasant, harsh substances, and never followed their own rules. Do not pass this tradition along: creating a loving, caring and nurturing atmosphere for when you brush. This has the power to greatly improve your child’s dental health in their adult life.

There is also a whole world of games and incentives related to brushing. Learn more about these practices in our in-depth guide.

Is there anything else I need to know?

  • When you brush together, it’s a great idea to have music on and allow both you and your child to have fun. This creates lasting impressions and pleasant memories that draw your child to brushing again and again.
  • Do not incentivise brushing with treats or other material rewards. Only with more love and attention. Be present with your child as you brush. Patiently answer any questions regarding brushing or dental health.
  • Be strict when your child refuses to brush. They must understand that such behaviour is not acceptable in this family. Brushing one’s teeth isn’t a question of choice, it’s basic healthcare, safety and hygiene. 
  • Children can have trouble building logical connections between their actions and long-term consequences. As a parent you need to teach the importance of daily brushing.
  • As a parent, you absolutely have to lead by example, demonstrating disciplined brushing twice every day. However busy or tired you are, your child has to see that you never skip your own brushings.

Children aged 412: key dental facts

? During this period, children will be transitioning from milk teeth to adult teeth. Adult teeth will be forming and erupting from inside the skull and jaw, naturally pushing out the milk teeth. 

? Children’s teeth are prone to quicker decay caused by sugary diets, and have higher fragility when it comes to enamel and mineralised mass. Adjust your child’s diet to minimise the impact of sugar.

? Neglecting milk teeth now can lead to severe damage to adult teeth in the future.

? It is critical to form positive experiences while brushing so that children carry on their brushing habits later in life.

? To achieve a pleasant brushing experience, it’s recommended to use high-quality soft brushes designed for children, and mild-tasting toothpastes with the proper fluoride content.