Dental hygiene is important for babies and toddlers.
They are just as likely to develop tooth decay as an older child or adult so it is important that you take care of their teeth and develop good oral hygiene habits early.
But, as we know, babies and toddlers aren’t always very co-operative. It isn’t always easy to brush their teeth regularly and properly.
So when should you start brushing your baby’s teeth and how do you brush their teeth properly? What are some tips for getting your child to co-operate when you’re brushing their teeth?
How to brush your baby’s teeth
- Even before your baby’s teeth make an appearance, you should gently wipe their gums daily with a moist soft cloth.
- Once your baby’s first teeth start to appear, use a toothbrush designed for babies to gently massage their teeth and gums.
- Up until they are 18 months old your baby’s teeth should be brushed with plain water, once a day, after the last feed in the evening.
- Tooth brushing for your baby can be done more easily with them lying on a bed or change table.
How to brush your toddler’s teeth
- Increase the time spent brushing until the baby is able to tolerate a two-minute brushing as a toddler.
- Once your toddler is used to brushing their teeth, introduce brushing twice a day – after breakfast and just before bed.
- There are low-fluoride toothpastes specially for young children. These can be introduced when your baby is about 18 months old.
- They only need a smear of toothpaste and you should encourage your child to spit out any excess toothpaste.
- Until your child is able to spit out after brushing. Continue using a smear of low-fluoride toothpaste and wipe their mouth with a washer or tissue.
Tooth-brushing tips for toddlers
- Store toothpaste somewhere your child can’t reach. Some kids love the taste of toothpaste but eating it can cause dental fluorosis.
- Consider an electric toothbrush, which adds novelty to brushing teeth.
- Sing nursery rhymes or play a favourite song while you help your child brush their teeth.
- Offer a reward if your toddler lets you to brush for two minutes.
- Encourage your toddler to practise cleaning their teeth (under your supervision of course)! This will instill good oral hygiene habits in them from an early age. If your toddler likes to be independent, let them use one toothbrush while you use another one and take turns at brushing.
- Make brushing fun as you can to avoid any negative association or resistance.
– written using information from the Australian Dental Association Inc.