Looking after your child's teeth
Sometimes, there are just so many things going on with the arrival of your new child that you can overlook the basics like brushing their teeth and gums regularly. Tooth decay can affect your baby's teeth as much as adult teeth and it is important to start good habits of brushing your child's teeth from the very beginning. This will set your child up to have healthy teeth and a healthy smile for life!
The following are some tips from the Australian Dental Association (ADA) for brushing your child's teeth.
How should I brush my baby's teeth?
Once the baby or primary teeth start to push through the gums, it is recommended that parents use a baby’s toothbrush with a small head and soft, rounded bristles. If it is difficult to fit the brush into the mouth, you can start off with a moistened soft cotton towel/wipe on your fingers to wipe their teeth initially.
Up to the age of 18 months the teeth should be brushed with plain water and preferably, teeth should be brushed twice a day - morning and evening.
What about my toddler's teeth?
When your child is about 4 to 5 years old, they should start to learn how to brush themselves with parent supervision. It is when they are about 8 years old before they have good manual skills to brush themselves.
If you toddler resists cleaning or finds it difficult to sit still for 2 minutes, consider trying the following:
Their are many apps on both Android and iPhones that encourage brushing (you can try ones from Macleans and Oral B!)
Using a battery-powered tooth brush which adds novelty to cleaning their teeth. Their are many rechargable ones that are not too expensive and saves you buying replacement batteries.
Sing nursery rhymes or play your child's favourite song while you help them brush their teeth
Offer a reward (like stickers) every time your toddler allows you to brush their teeth for 2 minutes.
Encourage your child to practice teeth cleaning (under your guidance) to have good toothbrushing habits from an early age.
Some toddlers like to be independent so it is a good idea for them to use one toothbrush while you use another one and take turns at brushing.
Make flossing and brushing as much fun as you can to avoid any negative associate or resistance.
Feel free to contact YOUR DENTAL CARE TEAM if you need more help in this area!
When should I take my child to see the dentist?
Your child should see a dentist when all their baby teeth has come through or by the age of 2.
However, at YOUR DENTAL CARE TEAM, we find that many of our littlest patients has greatly benefited from seeing us even earlier. We recommend that you bring your child in with you for your dental check up. Read them one of the dental picture books we have in our waiting room. Let them have a go on the dental chair and have a chat to Dr Alex, Dr Brian or Dr Julie. This early exposure will help your child become familiar with the dental environment in a positive way. A gradual introduction will help reduce any anxiety your child may have and it will help educate your child on the importance of healthy teeth from a young age.
Setting good examples!
Children tend to copy their parents' behaviour. If brushing and looking after your teeth and gums are important to you, they will be important to your child as well! Talk to them about the importance of healthy teeth! Let them see you go regularly to the dentist for check ups. Children who understand that their teeth have to last a lifetime are more likely to take care of them.