Good oral hygiene is important for your baby from the start. Before your infant even gets his fist teeth, you can use a piece of gauze wrapped around your index finger to gently clean your baby’s gums after feedings. This will ready your baby for when the first teeth emerge, usually around 6 months of age (but this varies greatly from child to child), and prepare her for the transition to a soft baby tooth brush.
Proper Tooth Brushing for Kids
Did you know that children don’t have the dexterity to brush and/or floss their teeth well until about 7-9 years of age? Before this age parents should assist their children with tooth brushing and flossing at least once daily and let their children brush and floss alone or with help at least one other time per day, according to pediatric dentist Dr. David M. Stewart of Little People’s Dental in Utah. Many studies cite that children should brush with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day to prevent tooth decay. Flossing teeth at least once per day helps decrease the risk of periodontal disease and tooth decay that happens between teeth. For children under six it is recommended that a parent dispense the tooth paste onto the toothbrush, using only a rice grain amount. As children get older they can use a pea sized amount.
Toddler Tooth Brushing
Toddlers thrive on routine and predictability, so make nightly tooth brushing a regular part of their bedtime routine. Give them some control by allowing them to go to the store with you and choose their own tooth brush. There are many fun choices with Disney or Sesame Street characters which may make tooth brushing more appealing to a child. Because choices are key at this age, you can keep a special basket or cup for each of your children with perhaps 2 or 3 different toothbrushes & tubes of tooth paste and allow them to make their choice each night. If your child insists on being in control, let them brush a bit and then work on turn taking skills by saying “First it’s Max’s turn, now it’s Mommy’s turn”. This is another time of day when songs and games come in handy. Let your child look into the mirror while you brush and you can work on counting the teeth or make up a song to a familiar tune, such as “Wheels on the Bus”, except sing “The brush on your teeth goes round and round, round and round, round and round, the brush in your teeth goes round and round all through your mouth!”
Seeing the Dentist
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should have their first dental check-up within 6 months of their first tooth erupting or around the age of one. Early visits to the dentist make dental check-ups a routine and make children less fearful of visiting the dentist as they get older. It is recommended that young children see a pediatric dentist that has at least two additional years of training beyond dental school (according to Web MD). Pediatric dentists, unlike regular dentists who see adults, have additional training on the management and treatment of a child’s developing teeth, children’s physical growth and development, child behavior and the special needs of children’s dentistry.