How To Help Brush Your Toddler’s Teeth
A common mistake parents make is assuming that caring for their child’s baby teeth isn’t important because they fall out eventually anyway. What caregivers don’t realize is that losing a baby tooth too soon or developing tooth decay early can have a major effect on the health of future adult teeth. That’s why we at Bay Area Kids Dentist place so much emphasis on how to brush kids’ teeth.
It’s Never Too Early to Start
A good oral healthcare routine starts long before your baby’s first tooth erupts. It’s important to clean the gums to remove the residue of breast milk or formula as well as baby food. To do this, just rub a damp cloth over your baby’s gums several times a day.
Most children have their first tooth appear around six months of age. We recommend scheduling your baby’s first appointment with us by the time he or she turns one or has had teeth for at least six months. This helps to get your baby off to the best possible start with oral health.
Also, families without dental insurance and/or access to quality dental care are found to be more likely to develop cavities. If you’re concerned about your child’s oral health, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We offer a sliding scale for payment and accept a number of dental insurance plans.
When to Start Brushing
Once your baby’s teeth start coming in, you can begin brushing them with a grain of rice-sized amount of toothpaste up to age 3 and a pea-sized amount after 3 years old, with a soft bristled toothbrush. Be sure to use a fluoride toothpaste that has the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Approval. You can usually tell if a product has the ADA Seal if it says so on the packaging.
For best results, have your toddler use a soft bristled toothbrush with the recommended amount of toothpaste. Rub the brush in gentle circular motions against your toddler’s teeth and gum line at a 45-degree angle. Make sure to brush the inside of each tooth and use a back-and-forth motion on the chewing surfaces of molars. Finally, once your toddler is done brushing, have them spit out the toothpaste.
You should brush your toddler’s teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. It is best if you can brush after every meal, but at least brush after the last meal of the day. If your toddler is resistant to brushing their teeth, there are a few things you can do to make the process easier:
● Let them choose their toothbrush and toothpaste. There are many kid-friendly options available that will make brushing more fun.
● Remind your child to brush teeth gently and not to swallow the toothpaste.
● Try singing a song while you brush or let them watch you brush your own teeth. Make sure they see you brushing your teeth, so they know that it is important.
● Be patient and understanding, it may take some time for them to get used to the process.
If you have any questions about how to care for your toddler’s teeth, be sure to ask us or schedule an appointment so we can help you look after your kid’s teeth and gums in the best possible way.
Teach by Example
We advise parents to brush their child’s teeth with a toddler-sized toothbrush until around the age of two. It’s fine to use the toothbrush with only water until your child has the ability to spit toothpaste out and rinse his or her mouth. Because your child looks to you to set an example, be sure to demonstrate how you brush your own teeth and act enthusiastic about it. To prepare for independent tooth brushing, try brushing your child’s teeth and then request him or her to repeat the process alone.
When you think your toddler is ready, allow him or her the chance to try tooth brushing independently. Instruct your child to spend at least a few seconds scrubbing each tooth in a circular motion.
You can even count 1-2-3 for each tooth. Offer plenty of praise and remember that your toddler will probably make a lot of mistakes before mastering tooth brushing for good. You will probably want to continue supervising the process until early elementary school to ensure quality results.
What Are the Risks of Not Brushing Your Toddler’s Teeth?
Again, the misconception that baby teeth are temporary and not important leads many parents to believe that there are no risks associated with not brushing their child’s teeth. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Just like permanent teeth, baby teeth are susceptible to decay and cavities.
If left untreated, cavities can cause pain, infection, and even tooth loss. In addition, poor oral health has been linked to problems with eating and speaking, as well as issues with self-esteem. When your child grows up and their baby teeth fall out, their permanent teeth may be affected. They might come in crooked or crowded or have other issues if their baby teeth were not properly cared for.
Therefore, it’s very important to start teaching your toddler how to brush their teeth as soon as they get their first tooth. Not only will this help them develop good oral hygiene habits, but it will also set the foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Taking a proactive approach to your child’s dental health will pay off in the long run.
The Bottom Line
Taking good care of your kid’s teeth is important for their overall health — and it starts with you. As a parent or caregiver, you can help your toddler brush their teeth and develop good dental habits by leading by example and being patient.
If you are looking for more tips, or if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Bay Area Kids Dentist. We are always happy to help. We are always just one call away and we are always willing to go the extra mile for our patients.