Investing in children’s oral health can do wonders for their teeth. If you start good oral health habits from the get-go, you can set your child on the right path to carrying these practices on later in life.
Contrary to what some people may think, you don’t have to wait until a child’s choppers have fully popped out before your start cleaning their mouth. It’s quite easy to begin an effective routine for the maintenance of good dental hygiene even in very young children.
Oral hygiene for infants
- Use a clean and gentle washcloth to clean the infant’s gums. You may also use cotton finger cots, which are worn over the fingers and are made especially for this purpose.
- Some infants will have a few natal teeth when they are born, while others will develop neonatal teeth within a month after birth. As more teeth emerge in the succeeding months of your baby’s life, you can begin using a soft-bristled infant toothbrush.
- For children under three years of age, use only a smear of toothpaste or an amount no bigger than a grain of rice. There are many brands of infant toothpaste you can use for the little beginner.
Teething and bottle weaning
- During the teething period, letting your child bite on a cold teething toy can alleviate discomfort. You may also massage the child’s gums with clean fingers.
- Weaning from bottle feeding and introducing the sippy cup should begin when a child is six months old. Doctors and dentists recommend that bottle feeding should be stopped completely by the time children are a year old to dissuade them from feeding for long periods, which means the drinks that cause tooth decay will be in contact with the teeth constantly.
As your child gets bigger
- Children who are a couple of years old can be taught how to spit after brushing.
- When the child reaches the age of 3, the toothpaste size can be upgraded to a pea-sized amount.
- Brush your child’s teeth twice daily. Make sure to brush all of the teeth and gum surfaces to ensure thorough cleaning.
- Oversee your child’s brushing until he or she iss seven years of age. As soon as they have the coordination to do it, children should be encouraged to brush their teeth themselves, but guide the brushing movements with your own hands to make sure that your child is doing it right. You can brush in front of a mirror to let your child see what’s going on or to show them where the brush is supposed to go. Bigger children can also begin using dental floss.
- Brushing shouldn’t be a stressful activity for your child. Whenever you can, use positive reinforcement, emphasize that brushing is fun, or turn everything into a game.
- Tell your child never to eat toothpaste. Contact your local hospital or poison control center if your child has accidentally consumed it.
- Also ask your dentist for good alternatives to sweet-tasting toothpaste, which your child might try to eat.
- Don’t let your child run around when brushing, especially if the toothbrush is left in the mouth. The child could slip and get hurt seriously.
Visiting the dentist
- Take your child to the dentist as soon as all the milk teeth have erupted. Most kids will have their full set of milk teeth by time they are two and a half years old.
- Visit the dentist once or twice a year afterwards. This can help your child further maintain good oral health because the dentist can perform regular cleaning on the kid’s teeth in addition to letting you know if your child has any conditions that need to be addressed or corrected.
About the Author
David S. Frey, DDS is a cosmetic dentist with 20 years of professional experience. He is one of the most trusted names in cosmetic and restorative dentistry in California’s Beverly Hills area. Dr. Frey also writes for his own blog where you can find tips on oral health care.