If you’re anything like me, the thought of brushing your first baby’s teeth totally freaked (or still freaks) you out. I was SO nervous – I had no clue what I was doing! So I’ve compiled this list of tips and tricks for you so that you won’t need to bumble through everything like I did. The most important thing to remember is to START EARLY.
Healthy Teeth For Babies and Toddlers
BABIES (under 1)
- Lay your baby on their back in a comfortable place – it makes it easier for you both! Make sure you can see into their mouth.
- Even before your baby is teething, make it a habit to start wetting a piece of gauze or a small washcloth and wiping baby’s gums twice per day. Not only will it feel good on the aching gums that come with teething, but it will get them used to the routine.
- You can continue to use the gauze/washcloth method once your baby’s first couple of teeth come through – all you have to do is wipe away the plaque. Or you can use a small brush with a few rows of bristles. Make sure once your baby has 3+ teeth you do switch to a brush.
- As soon as baby has a tooth or teeth you can use a small amount of toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice).
- If you have water with Fluoride in your area, avoid toothpaste with Fluoride until your baby is at least 2, or skip the toothpaste all together.
- If your water has no Fluoride speak to your doctor as he may want you to use a toothpaste with Fluoride, or fluoridated drops.
- Don’t forget – use no more toothpaste than the size of a grain of rice.
- Brush in gentle circles, do not scrub.
- Do not put baby to bed with milk.
TODDLERS (1 year or older)
- To get a good clean for all teeth, I highly, highly recommend a small electric tooth brush. B loves hers, and she even likes to do it herself (after mommy or daddy are done, of course). With the spinning head you have a better chance of cleaning all of their teeth well, especially if your little one is squirmy.
- Make sure the brush is soft, and sized well for your child’s mouth.
- Replace the toothbrush every few (3 or so) months.
- Teach spitting toothpaste out to your child at around 2 years of age.
KIDS (3 – 6+)
- A good rule of thumb – once your child can write their own name, they can brush their own teeth. Until then it is up to you to make sure their teeth are clean!
- Children aged 3 – 6 normally require supervision while brushing.
- Use a small portion of fluoridated toothpaste (the size of a green pea) for small children.
- Until you are certain they can do a good job, always check when they are done to be sure. Setting your child up for a future with healthy teeth is fundamentally important.
- Make sure you are brushing in the morning and right before bed!
- Don’t forget to floss, even for little ones between 3 and 6!
WHY BE CAUTIOUS WITH FLUORIDE?
- Too much Fluoride can cause Fluorosis, a type of tooth discolouration.
- Fluoride can be toxic to children in large quantities (Poison Control centres get a shocking amount of toothpaste related calls each year). So make sure that you use the correct recommend amount of toothpaste as suggested per the child’s age.