For many new parents, the idea of brushing an infant’s teeth may not cross their minds. There are so many other things that a parent has on their plate those first few months and years. However, starting off with good oral care habits is just as important as naptime, choosing the right foods and securing the car seat.
Brushing an infant’s teeth, however, is not the same as brushing your own adult teeth. There are slight differences depending on the child and their age.
Here are a few guidelines to follow when caring for your children’s oral health.
0-6 months – When a child has 2 or less teeth, the process of brushing is modified to more of a cleaning technique. Using a thin, soft, clean washcloth, slightly damp with water at one end. Wrap the end around your index finger and gently wipe the child’s teeth, tongue and gums. This can be done several times a day after feedings, and it relatively easy especially as the baby sleeps. Use care to not put the finger too deeply in the infant’s mouth to avoid choking.
6-12 months – When the first baby tooth erupts, it is important to schedule your child’s first baby teeth checkup with the dentist. During this visit, we will check your child’s teeth and gums and recommend any changes to the cleaning technique as well as provide “teething-survival” tips.
12-36 months – Your child should be introduced to their first toothbrush at about a year old. Use a small amount of children’s toothpaste on the brush and gently brush all teeth, fronts and backs, as well as the tongue. The cleaning technique with the small washcloth still works well in these years in addition to the brushing, especially where the teeth are erupting, or with children who aren’t ready for brushing yet.
3-5 years – Between ages 3 and 5, your child can begin to brush their teeth alone. This is a great opportunity to impress upon them the importance of routine and technique. We recommend that you still monitor your child’s brushing habits, as they should not be left unattended, or relied upon for proper brushing. Always assist your child with brushing and allow them to watch you brush your teeth. Hint: Singing the song “Happy Birthday” twice is about the right amount of time to brush your teeth.
The younger years are a really exciting time for parents. Children grow and change so quickly, and each child is different. Work closely with your dentist and hygienists to adapt your techniques to your child, at whatever stage they are in, and make sure you keep your child’s regular check-up appointments.
If your child is ready for their first dentist appointment, we would love to see them! Give us a call to schedule the appointment today.