When should you start brushing your child’s teeth?
Remember, your child is never too young for oral care. You can begin implementing an oral hygiene regimen a few days after birth. A soft washcloth wrapped around your finger can substitute for a brush, especially when their teeth have not yet emerged.
Using a clean, wet gauze or washcloth, gently wipe your infant’s gums after feedings. As soon as their teeth come in, you can begin brushing them as recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD).
Continue brushing your child’s teeth until you’re confident that they can brush on their own. Then, simply supervise brushing time to make sure they are using the right amount of toothpaste and that they do not swallow the toothpaste.
The best way to brush your child’s teeth
Brushing your child’s teeth doesn’t have to be all that complicated. Follow these easy steps to take the pressure off:
- Stand behind your child to make them feel secured. Brushing in front of a mirror can be a good idea.
- Cup your child’s chin in your hands with their head resting against your body.
- Angle the bristles of the toothbrush towards the gum.
- Move the brush gently back and forth and in circles to clean both the inner and outer sides of the teeth.
- Place the toothbrush in the vertical position to brush their front teeth.
- Gently brush their tongue to remove bacteria from the surface.
- Make sure your kids brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes each.
How to make brushing fun?
No matter how many times you stress the importance of oral hygiene, some children can be stubborn. If you aren’t a big fan of tears and tantrums, try these tips to make brushing fun for your kids.
- Lead by example and let your kids mimic you
- Sing while brushing or make up a song about brushing
- Pretend the toothbrush is a train
- Use puppets or props to add an element of fun to brushing
- Let your child play with his favorite toy while you’re brushing
- Reward them with star sticker to keep them encouraged
Choose the right toothbrush
Make sure you choose a toothbrush that is designed especially for children aged two to five years. These toothbrushes have small oval heads, soft bristles of different heights, and non-slip, cushioned handles, often with fun cartoon designs on them.
Always remember to:
- Keep the toothbrush clean
- After cleaning your child’s teeth and gums, rinse the toothbrush with water
- Store the toothbrush upright in an open container to allow it to air-dry
- Replace the toothbrushes every 3 to 4 months or when the bristles get frayed
Choose the right kind and amount of toothpaste
When going toothpaste shopping, always look for a fluoridated toothpaste with the ADA Seal of Acceptance on the packaging to ensure that they’re safe for your kids. But that’s not all you need to look out for.
The CDC recently reported that about 40% of kids are using too much toothpaste. While fluoride is essential to help ward off tooth decay, excessive amounts can lead to fluorosis – a condition that can permanently weaken and discolor the teeth. Since babies and little kids don’t know how to spit it out, the toothpaste can linger around in their mouths for an extended period of time and cause a wildfire!
As a rule of thumb, you may want to keep these safety guidelines in mind:
- Kids from birth to age 3 – Use a tiny smear (about the size of a grain of rice)
- Kids aged 3 and up – Use a pea-sized amount
When kids hit their teens, they still do not need a load of toothpaste. A fine ribbon across the head of the toothbrush will suffice.
By using the correct technique and tools for brushing, you can safeguard your little one’s precious smile against tooth decay and other diseases. Contact 4Smile for more information.