Short in the Tooth: How to Look After Your Child’s Teeth

*Article written by Laura Gavin on caring for your children’s teeth. With two toddlers, this is timely for us as it’s nearly impossible to get them to let me help!*

Ensuring that your child has good oral hygiene is an important part of their health and well-being and will also help to guard against future problems. So when should you start brushing your child’s teeth? And which is better for brushing your teeth —a standard or electric toothbrush?

Brushing baby’s teeth

You can introduce tooth brushing into your child’s routines when the child is still a baby. Even before they’ve developed any teeth it’s good to establish tooth brushing as part of their daily routine. Special baby toothbrushes are soft and can be used to brush baby’s gums. Your child will have a natural curiosity about the toothbrush, and there’s no harm in letting them hold it and have a go themselves (under supervision!). You don’t need toothpaste at this stage since they don’t actually have teeth yet (it won’t be long before those gnashers make their appearance, though!).

First teeth and early years

As soon as your child develops their first teeth you can move on to using toothpaste. Professionals recommend fluoride toothpastes as they help to prevent tooth decay by strengthening tooth enamel [ETA: if they can’t yet spit during brushing, use a fluoride-free toothpaste; you don’t want your kids to swallow fluoride]. Look out for toothpastes that are formulated specially for children, since they contain suitable amounts of fluoride (and junior will feel grown up having their own special toothpaste!). When your child only has one or two teeth you may wish to use a washcloth with a small smear of toothpaste on it rather than a brush, or to stick with the soft baby brush. According to experts, you don’t necessarily have to start using a toothbrush until your child has several teeth in a row.

Caring for milk teeth

When your child has developed milk teeth they should brush their teeth twice a day. Between the ages of three and six, it’s best for them to use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and brush for two minutes, once during the day and again before bed. You’ll have to supervise your child until they’re around seven years old, and can help them to learn the technique by guiding their hand. Make tooth brushing as fun for them as possible. This can mean choosing a novelty toothbrush or timer. In fact, experts say that electric toothbrushes are fine for kids over the age of three to use under supervision. Introducing an electric brush is a great way to incorporate enjoyment into your child’s tooth brushing routine.

Regular trips to the dentist

Register your child at the local dental surgery as early as possible and take them for regular check-ups. If you’re unsure of anything concerning your child’s oral hygiene, consult a dentist for professional advice.

By starting a tooth brushing routine early and ensuring your child maintains twice-daily, two -minute brushes throughout their childhood you can give them the best possible start when it comes to oral hygiene. By approaching it in a positive way there’s no reason tooth care should be a challenge, either.

*Article written by Laura Gavin on caring for your children’s teeth*

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