The longer you wait to introduce your little one to good oral care habits the more likely you’ll have him or her asking you for brushing “exemptions” down the line. Not a battle anyone wants to fight at the end of the day! Many parents don’t realize that toothbrushing should begin as soon as your child’s first tooth comes in. Once your child is old enough to hold a toothbrush, they should start learning how to brush their own teeth. Not so easy, though. Which is why we asked an expert for some top toothbrushing tips for kids.
“Lead by example and brush your teeth together,” says Dr. Jeffrey Sulitzer, chief clinical officer with SmileDirectClub. “If your toddler sees mom and dad brushing their teeth, they will be excited to do the same. Also, make certain to use a soft bristled toothbrush with a small head and a large handle. It’s helpful to introduce a toothbrush in a fun color or their favorite TV character to get your child excited about brushing their teeth.” As for flossing, Dr. Sulitzer recommends starting the moment the child gets two teeth that touch.
And now…the questions of the hour: fluoride or no fluoride?
Despite the market being flooded with non-fluoride options most dentists, including Dr. Sulitzer, recommend opting for fluoride baby toothpaste to prevent cavities. “Remember to use a very tiny amount, about the size of a rice grain until they learn how to spit, which is typically at around age three. Also, around that same time you should discuss the concept of a fluoride supplement in the form of drops if you live in an area where your water is not fluoridated with a pediatric dentist.”
As you probably guessed, parents aren’t off the hook before the first tooth comes in when it comes to mouth hygiene. “To help make sure your baby has a healthy mouth, I suggest cleaning your baby’s gums after feeding and before bedtime with a washcloth cloth to prevent bacteria growth,” says Dr. Sulitzer. “Once teeth start to come in use a cold spoon or teething ring to ease the pain, it’s also helpful to massage your baby’s tender gums.”
Bonus! Many parents are concerned about how using a pacifier will effect their child’s teeth. Pacifiers are fine to use, just make certain the habit doesn’t continue for too long. “The concerns parents tend to worry about with pacifiers are changes to the roof of the mouth, teeth alignment issues, open bites and overbites. If your baby has been using a pacifier for an extended period of time and you are concerned, call your pediatric dentist.”
Share your own toothbrushing tips for kids!