- Start Early: Dental care should begin even before your child's first tooth appears. Clean their gums with a soft, damp cloth after feeding to remove bacteria and prevent gum irritation. Once their first tooth emerges, typically around six months of age, it's time to introduce a toothbrush.
- Choose the Right Toothbrush and Toothpaste: Select a soft-bristled toothbrush specifically designed for infants or toddlers. Use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) for children under three years old. For children aged three to six, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is sufficient.
- Establish a Routine: Consistency is key. Brush your child's teeth at least twice a day, ideally after breakfast and before bedtime. Make it a fun and interactive experience to encourage cooperation. Sing songs, use a timer, or let them choose a special toothbrush to make brushing exciting.
- Monitor Their Diet: Limit sugary snacks and drinks, especially before bedtime. Sugars can feed harmful bacteria in the mouth, leading to cavities. Opt for healthier options like fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Encourage drinking water instead of sugary juices or sodas. Don’t allow babies to have any juice or milk in the crib overnight. (can lead to bottle mouth syndrome).
- Regular Dental Checkups: Schedule your child's first dental appointment around their first birthday or when their first tooth erupts. Regular checkups allow the dentist to monitor your child's oral development, identify any potential issues early, and provide guidance on proper oral care.
- Teach Good Habits: As your child grows, teach them how to brush their teeth properly. Supervise their brushing until they can effectively do it themselves, usually around age six or seven. Emphasize the importance of reaching all surfaces of their teeth and gums.
- Be a Role Model: Children often mimic their parents' behavior. Set a good example by demonstrating proper oral hygiene practices. Brush and floss together as a family to make it a bonding experience.
- Protect Their Teeth: If your child participates in contact sports, consider a mouthguard to prevent dental injuries. Also, be cautious with hard candies, ice, and popcorn kernels, as they can lead to tooth fractures.
- Address Thumb-Sucking and Pacifiers: If your child uses a pacifier or sucks their thumb excessively, consult with a dentist or pediatrician. Prolonged habits can impact dental development.
Remember, instilling good oral hygiene habits early on sets the stage for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Your child's smile is worth the effort, and a visit to the dentist can be an exciting adventure. They can learn about oral hygiene, get their teeth checked and cleaned by our amazing Hygienists and Dentists, and pick a prize from our special treasure chest!
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry: https://www.aapd.org/resources/parent/
Kids Health.org: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/healthy.html