Regular tooth brushing is important to help remove bacteria and to help create good life-long dental habits. Getting started with dental practices from an early age is a great idea to not only keep teeth healthy but also so that it becomes part of your child’s daily routine.
So, when exactly should you start cleaning your child’s teeth? The answer is: as soon as your baby’s first teeth start to appear.
You might start to see teeth in your baby’s mouth from around six months of age. You should begin to care for their teeth from this time. To start with, simply use a soft cloth to wipe over the teeth. Once the teeth are all the way through you can then swap to a small soft toothbrush with water only.
When you start brushing your baby’s teeth you should use your hand to cup the chin and rest their head against your body. It’s a great idea to have a mirror in front too so that your child can see the process and become comfortable with the routine of tooth brushing.
Once your child is around eighteen months old you should start using a small amount of age-appropriate toothpaste on their toothbrush. You only need to use a very small amount of toothpaste, to begin with – just a light smear on the toothbrush is more than enough.
Once the child is older and can spit out effectively, you can encourage them to spit out excess toothpaste but avoid getting them to rinse the mouth. This allows a small amount of toothpaste to stay on the teeth so your child can get the full benefit of the fluoride.
In addition to toothbrushing, you should also begin flossing your child’s teeth once their molars start coming through.
As your child gets older you can encourage them to have a go at brushing their own teeth before or after you have helped them first. Don’t be in a hurry to have them brush their teeth on their own though. Children will still need your assistance with brushing right up until they are around eight years old. From this age, they will have developed their fine motor skills enough so that they are able to manage the process effectively on their own.
Creating Lifelong Habits
Creating good dental habits from a young age is the best way to create lifelong practices that include regular brushing and flossing.
In order to encourage your child to have good dental practices, it is a good idea to try and make it a fun activity that involves the whole family. This might mean brushing and flossing your teeth together at the same time, talking about dental health at the dinner table and purchasing new toothbrushes together.
Regular dental visits, a good diet, and brushing and flossing every day is the best way to help you and your child maintain good dental health for life.