A common question for parents is, “When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?” The answer: as soon as your child has a tooth.
With this exciting milestone comes the beginning of teaching your child healthy dental habits. To get your little one off to a good start in learning healthy dental habits, remember these tips:
Selecting a toothbrush and toothpaste
- Choose a soft bristled toothbrush; look for one specifically made for children.
- Children this age love having control. Let your child pick out the toothbrush. Give your child a choice of two toothbrushes that have your child’s favorite characters on them or are their favorite color.
- Make sure the toothpaste contains fluoride.
- Check the taste and texture of the toothpaste; your child won’t use a toothpaste that doesn’t taste or feel good in their mouth.
Brushing your child’s teeth
- Put a “smear” of toothpaste on the toothbrush; a smear is the size of a grain of rice. At this age, your child is developing independence and may want to put the toothpaste on the brush. However, it is important you do this so your child doesn’t end up with too much toothpaste in their mouth.
- Your child can hold the toothbrush in their mouth, but you will need to do the brushing. Your child doesn’t have enough coordination to adequately do the brushing.
- If your child puts up a fuss, give your child a toothbrush — with no toothpaste — to help with brushing their teeth.
- Make tooth brushing fun! The goal is to brush for two minutes, so make it enjoyable. Keep your child from getting bored — be silly, sing songs, tell a story, or get a toothbrush that lights up or plays music. You want tooth brushing to be a positive experience.
Dental health tips for kids
- Clean your child’s teeth twice a day, ideally after breakfast and before bedtime.
- Limit sugary drinks and foods that stick to your child’s teeth, like raisins.
- Offer fruit and veggies as snacks instead of sugary cookies and candy.
- If your child needs a bottle at bedtime, put water in it. Drinking milk and other sugary drinks at bedtime can cause tooth decay.
- See a dentist within 6 months of the first tooth erupting.
Remember, healthy baby teeth will lead to healthy permanent teeth.
For specific questions on your child’s dental health, check with your child’s health care provider or dentist.
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