Healthy baby teeth lay the foundation of good oral health throughout life. Cleaning your kid’s teeth should be an everyday routine – even if he tries to bite your finger! Even before babies teeth erupt, they are already present under the gums. While the arrival of a baby’s first tooth is an exciting event, it signals the start of the wars to come – the ones you will have your mini me for refusing to brush!
Between the ages of 6 months to 12 months, the front teeth begin to appear, making it important to keep the mouth clean after every meal. Using a damp soft cloth to gently rub their gums and tongue works best.
During this teething phase, your child would surely have tender gums, which can make them irritable. Try rubbing their gums with your finger or use a small cold finger brush to soothe the tender gums. These baby teeth are also very important for eating and chewing – so never ignore saying them “Oh, they are just baby teeth.” Don’t you just love his smile, through his crooked teeth? Then, take care of them!!
Over the next 2 years, the remaining baby teeth erupt through the gums. As they develop their first tooth, you can opt for a soft finger tooth brush to clean the teeth and tongue. Use it to lightly brush their gums by applying a gentle but firm hand. Allow them to experiment by giving them a training toothbrush to brush their teeth once they turn 18 months or so.
As your child’s second birthday gets over, he would have cut most of his teeth so use a toddlers brush to brush his teeth. Use one that has soft bristles and a small head so that it can easily fit into his mouth, leaving some space for you to manoeuver. Following good oral habits is the very first and important health lesson you can teach your toddler. It includes helping them brush their teeth twice a day, teaching the proper way of mouth rinsing, proper meal and snacks habits, and visiting dentist regularly.
Six steps to ensuring good oral health in your child
1. Avoid Using Bottle – I know it’s easy, but still!
Try to avoid giving sugary or sweet drinks like juice or milk in baby bottles as this can be harmful to baby’s teeth. Do not encourage the habit of sleeping with a bottle during nap or sleep time. Sugar content in these drinks can cling to your child’s teeth and can cause tooth decay.
2. Inculcate good dental habit by brushing daily – even if you get bitten!
Even before your munchkin’s teeth have erupted, you can start gently brushing and massaging his gums. Once the teeth erupt, start brushing twice a day with a baby toothbrush. After brushing at night avoid giving any food or drinks until morning.
3. Don’t use pacifiers – Why would you want to?
Pacifiers have a bad effect on teeth line up and can also affect the shape of the mouth. Try to avoid using a pacifier in the beginning itself, by not purchasing one at all!
5. Motivate your child – Easier said than done, but still!
Kids may throw tantrums when it comes to brushing, so hold your ground. Make it clear she/he has no other choice. Never scare them with scary statements about difficult dental procedures as it will only increase toddler anxiety about visiting the dentist. Use stories and songs to get them to brush.
6. Visit a dentist – A stitch in time saves nine
It is advisable to see a dentist when a child completes his first birthday. The dentist will explain about proper brushing procedures, following which more important than the toothpaste and brush brand you plan to use. So, listen to your dentist or paediatrician and follow their advice to prevent future visits!
How to clean your kid’s teeth everyday – A practical routine
1. Clean the mouth by wiping his gums with a wet cloth.
2. Begin brushing the teeth using a pea sized amount of toothpaste. Brush the teeth thoroughly twice a day – without fail.
3. Help your child to get used to the brushing technique on their own. Let them play with it for some time, and don’t get irritated if they don’t allow you to do it. You will need to supervise to ensure that they are not swallowing the toothpaste.
Practice a brushing song and share the benefits of brushing through a story or song. Let them have fun or make bubbles when brushing. This will allow you to enjoy the process, not get bugged. Allowing your child to choose which “superhero” or “princess” toothbrush they want will also generate some interest and independence regarding brushing. Appreciate your child when they manage to do it right, and maybe they will surprise you by doing it right the next day!
Anjana Bhartia is a mommy blogger at MommyRepublic. She describes herself as an imperfect mom stumbling through motherhood, discovering the joys of natural and attachment parenting along the way.