Oral Hygiene for Children
Should I clean my baby's teeth?
Definitely! Even before the first tooth appears, use a soft, clean cloth to wipe your baby's gums and cheeks after feeding. As soon as the first tooth appears, begin using a small, soft bristled tooth brush to clean the tooth after eating. Don't cover the brush with toothpaste. Young children tend to swallow most of the toothpaste, and swallowing too much fluoridated toothpaste can cause permanent spots on their teeth called dental fluorosis.
I find brushing my child's teeth awkward. Do you have any suggestions?
Try having your child lie down. Put your child on your lap or on the floor, keeping his/her head steady with your legs. If your child is standing, have his/her back to you with their head tilted slightly and resting against your body. Have your child hold a mirror while you brush and floss their teeth so your child can see what is being done.
Is it important to brush before bed?
Yes. If you have to miss a brushing, the bedtime one is probably the worst one to miss. If you don't get rid of the bacteria and sugar that cause cavities, they have all night to do harm. While you are awake, saliva helps keep the mouth clean. When you are asleep, there is less saliva produced to clean the mouth. For this reason it is important to brush before bedtime.
How to brush your child's teeth:
- Every day plaque forms on the inner, outer, and chewing surface of teeth and the gums. Tooth brushing is one of the most effective ways to remove the plaque.
- The best kind of toothbrush to use is one with soft, round-tipped bristles.
- A child will need a smaller brush than an adult.
- Young children do not have the manual dexterity to brush properly. Your child will need your supervision and help brushing until he or she is 8-10 years old to ensure a thorough brushing has been done.
- When the bristles become bent or frayed, a new brush is needed.
- Start flossing your child's teeth when the teeth touch each other and you can no longer brush in between them.