At Adventure Dental and Orthodontics, we know that the dentist’s office can be intimidating for little ones. That’s why we do everything we can to make their visits as fun and comfortable as possible, but we know that parents face some challenges when it’s time to brush their teeth at home, too.
It can be easy to put these concerns aside. After all, baby teeth will fall out soon anyway, right? The truth is that it is just as important to take care of baby teeth as it is to take care of permanent ones. Not only does this set up your child for a lifetime of good dental hygiene, but decayed baby teeth can interfere with nutrition and speech development. That’s why we put together some advice to help ensure teeth-cleaning time is done properly and greeted with smiles (or at least not tears).
Tips for Your Infant
If your infant’s teeth are just starting to poke through, and bringing teething pains with them, you might be wondering when you should begin brushing. You can actually begin brushing your infant’s teeth before you can even see them. That brings us to our first tip:
Brushing your infant’s gums with a clean, soft cloth and some water after feeding will help to prevent bacteria growth.
What about when the infant’s teeth begin to come in? That brings us to our next tips:
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends using cavity-preventing fluoride toothpaste when you see the baby’s first tooth. A rice-sized smear of toothpaste will work until the baby is three.
Teether-style brushes are a great option for warming up your child to taking control of their dental hygiene. They will gently massage your little one’s teeth and gums with soft silicone brushes. They are usually best for infants up to 12 months.
Tips for Your Toddler
Typically around the one-year mark, your child can upgrade from the teether-style brush and begin traditional brushing. Here are some tips for that transition:
The best toothbrushes for toddlers are soft, small-headed and wide-handled to make it easier for them to grasp.
When your toddler turns three, you can upgrade the toothpaste amount from a rice-sized smear to a pea-sized dollop.
How To Make Teeth Brushing Fun
No matter what stage of the brushing process your child is in, it never hurts to make it a little more fun. The sooner your child grows used to brushing their teeth, the better. Making teeth brushing something they look forward to from a young age can set them up for a lifetime of healthy dental habits.
Add some jams.
Incorporating music into teeth brushing time will appeal to their auditory senses. If you play music they enjoy, like a song from their favorite movie, they will begin to associate positive memories with the task. Playing the entire song will also help to make sure they brush their teeth for the entire recommended two minutes. You can even buy a musical toothbrush if you want to turn this tip up a notch!
Turn it into play pretend time.
If your child has a favorite doll, action figure, or stuffed animal, show them how important teeth brushing really is by asking them to brush their toy’s teeth as well. This will also help teach them the importance of caring about others, so it’s a win-win.
Mix it up.
Toothbrushes should be changed at least every three to four months, but you can use this recommendation to your advantage. Mixing up the colors, shapes and characters on your child’s toothbrush will help keep the task exciting. You can also switch up their toothpaste flavor between flavors like strawberry, mint and watermelon, to show them there are plenty of ways to enjoy brushing their teeth.
Offer positive reinforcement.
Don’t forget to keep reminding them how important it is to brush their teeth, and let them know when they are doing great!
We hope this little guide makes introducing teeth brushing a little easier for you and your child. The skilled pediatric dentists at Adventure Dental and Orthodontics Dentistry and Orthodontics are happy to answer any more questions you may have, and help you instill a lifetime of healthy dental habits.
To learn more about us and how we can help, give us a call at (661) 251-0200 or contact us online today!