We hope for happy and healthy children. We would do just about anything to make this happen. There is no sugar sweeter than a child’s healthy smile. While unavoidable genetic components impact your child’s teeth, there are plenty of things that can be done to ensure good oral hygiene and give them something to smile about from the beginning.
- Begin getting your little one accustomed to the sensation of tooth brushing from the start. Use a damp cloth, or something clean and of the like to gently wipe your baby’s gums after every meal to avoid bacterial growth. Doing this even before they have teeth will make for a smoother transition to a toothbrush later. It will become routine and something your child will expect.
- Prepare for a first dental visit around their first birthday or 6 months after their first tooth. Doing this allows the dentist to get to know your child and identify any potential dental issues early. This is also a good time for you to ask questions about how to properly care for your child’s teeth and what to expect. Be prepared and take full advantage of that first visit.
- Begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they peak through their gums. Be sure to use a soft-bristled infant brush that is appropriately sized for their little mouth. Brush each tooth gently and thoroughly. Steadily increase brush time until you reach the goal of two minutes.
- Use a rice-grain smear of fluoride toothpaste at age 1 to ensure too much fluoride isn’t ingested. Children typically don’t master the art of spitting until age 3, give or take. Because of this, swallowing too much fluoride can lead to stomach aches and brown spots appearing on the teeth.
- Schedule dental visits twice a year to develop a predictable routine. This will also allow your child to develop a rapport with the dentist. Establishing this relationship will help your child feel more comfortable at visits, during the cleanings, and in the event, they should need any less than pleasant dental procedures.
- At age 3 and after your child has mastered spitting,; begin using a pee sized smear of fluoride toothpaste on a soft bristled brush designed and sized for toddlers. The fluoride will aid in preventing cavities.
- Model brushing your teeth for your child. Be sure to brush each tooth gently and carefully. Then allow your child to mimic you and have them brush along with you. Practicing brushing all sides of the tooth, so they can get used to moving their hand and turning the brush.
- Once your child’s teeth touch, begin flossing once a day. This will help prevent tooth decay and gum disease by ridding your child’s teeth of food particles that a toothbrush cannot reach. Be sure to floss before bed to prevent bacteria growing in-between the teeth during sleep.
- Establish a routine and make it a priority to brush teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day. Do not let this routine slip or make exceptions, as habits are difficult to reestablish once broken.
- Supervise each brushing and be ready to help if you notice they aren’t doing a thorough job. At the minimum of age 8, you may want to cut back your supervision and check in to your child’s brushing once a week. This will allow your child to gain independence and prove their ability to care for their teeth properly.
It is important to encourage your child to take an active role in their oral hygiene early in life. Encouraging them to develop independence within their oral care by allowing them to select the color of their toothbrush or characters on it. Make it fun by brushing teeth to music or singing songs as they brush. Play mirror games where your child mimics you brushing your teeth as they brush their own. Upgrade your child’s toothbrush to one that is electric. Some electric toothbrushes designed for children use lights, music, or an accompanying app to encourage brushing for the full two minutes. Read children’s books about taking care of teeth. Whatever you do, just remember it is all about that smile!