Caring for your child’s teeth and gums is a very important daily habit that should not be overlooked. In fact, good oral hygiene starts at birth, long before your baby grows his or her first tooth – unless of course your child was born with teeth! By practicing tooth care basics right from the start, you’re ensuring your child’s overall health by keeping their teeth and gums as healthy as possible.
How to care for a baby’s mouth
Once your baby is just a few days old, it is important to start caring for their gumsafter feedings. To do this, gently wipe their gums using a clean, wet washcloth or disposable gauze. This will help keep the bacteria and plaque from building up and causing gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) or other oral conditions. When your baby’s teeth do start to come in, you can begin using a baby-sized toothbrush. A light smear of fluoridated toothpaste can be used for children under the age of two. You know you put the right amount of toothpaste on if you can still see the majority of the tips of the bristles.
How to care for your toddler’s mouth
Manual dexterity takes years to develop, which is why toddlers are not very coordinated with their hands. Between the ages of 8 to 10 years is when a child finally has sufficient coordination to properly brush their own teeth. Until then, it is recommended that an adult do the brushing. If your child likes to brush his or her own teeth, then follow up and brush the teeth after your child does. A child size toothbrush and pea size amount of fluoridated toothpaste is what should be used to brush your toddler’s teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time. Don’t rush. Take your time. It’s important that your child brushes a minimum of two minutes because the fluoride in toothpaste needs a full two minutes to help the teeth.
How to brush your child’s teeth
To effectively clean your child’s teeth and gums, hold the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle so that the bristles are aimed where the tooth and the gums meet. This will clean the area where plaque likes to build up. Also, be sure to brush all surfaces of the teeth when doing so. That means brushing the cheek surfaces of the teeth, the tongue surfaces of the teeth, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Don’t forget to brush the tongue as well to help with keeping the breath fresh. The tongue is like a giant sponge that absorbs everything we eat as well the bacteria that live in the mouth. Don’t brush too far back on the tongue so you don’t gag your child!
After brushing your child’s teeth and when they begin brushing on their own, be sure that you thoroughly wash the toothbrush after each use and replace the toothbrush every three months. Your child should also be spitting out any excess toothpaste from their mouths and not swallowing the toothpaste.
How to floss your child’s teeth
Once your child has grown enough teeth that touch, it’s time to start flossing. Be gentle by gliding the floss between the teeth until it reaches the gum line. Next, curve it around each tooth and gently rub the floss up and down on the tooth to remove plaque and food. Flossing in a back and forth, or sawing motion, does not clean between the teeth and can damage the gums
Visit a kid’s dentist
It is important for your child to begin visiting the dentist as soon as possible. This will help the child eliminate the fear of the dentist and continually encourage proper oral hygiene.