A regular dental cleaning ritual is an important aspect of your child’s hygiene routine. You can actually begin with an oral hygiene routine before your baby’s first tooth has even appeared! The easiest way to do this is to use a damp clean facecloth and just wipe it gently over your baby’s gums. This gets your little one used to the process and can also make it easier for you to identify when teeth are cutting through! You don’t need to use any toothpaste until the teeth actually appear so just warm water will do.
Mam actually do a really cute ‘oral care rabbit’ which makes a lovely alternative to the facecloth. http://www.milltownpharmacy.ie/p/mam_oral_care_rabbit
Another option which is good for when your baby’s gums are sore and teeth are making their way to the surface is to use Dentinox teething toothpaste http://www.milltownpharmacy.ie/p/dentinox_teething_toothpaste_30ml .
This is suitable for babies from 0-2 years and comes with a handy little fingertip toothbrush which you just slip over your finger like a thimble and wipe it gently over your little ones gums. Give the brush a good clean before each use and just use a small amount of the toothpaste. Its great as it contains a small amount of clove oil which is a natural way of soothing sore and tender gums during the teething process.
Once your baby’s first teeth make an appearance you can start to use appropriate fluoride toothpaste. First teeth often appear around the six month mark….neither of my girls had a single tooth before their first birthday so don’t worry – that’s normal too! First teeth can take as long as 15-18 months to appear! There are several appropriate fluoride toothpastes on the market such as Aquafresh Milk Teeth (0-2 years) http://www.milltownpharmacy.ie/p/aquafresh_milk_teeth_02_years_50ml
Oral B Stages which comes in a variety of flavours
Both of these products have safe levels of fluoride for use in babies. Fluoride is important as it helps to prevent tooth decay. Sugary foods result in acid on the tooth’s surface, this acid breaks down the tooth’s enamel and can cause cavities. When applied to the teeth fluoride reacts with the minerals on the tooth’s surface and replaces enamel. This prevents dental caries which improves oral and general health.
Bring your baby for their first trip to the dentist soon after their first teeth appear. This will get them used to going and the dentist can identify any early decay and advise you on how to care for your babies teeth. Try to make the trip to the dentist as much fun as possible! I’d advise lots of practising of ‘opening mouth’ to show the dentist their teeth beforehand and a reward like stickers or a treat afterwards really helps!
To brush your babies teeth use a small amount of toothpaste (Pea sized or smaller) and brush the fronts, backs and tops of their teeth. Try to do 3-4 strokes in each direction over every tooth. You can brush up to two to three teeth at a time. The process should take approximately two minutes. As they get older let them hold the toothbrush and let them learn the correct movement by guiding the hand in the right direction for the correct length of time. I would recommend explaining exactly what you are doing and why so that they understand from an early age that to keep their teeth healthy they need to clean them twice every day.
Mam do a really good ‘learn to brush’ set which comes with a training brush which has a handle long enough that both mum/dad and baby can hold and also has a shield to prevent your little one sticking the toothbrush in too far and hurting themselves. It also comes with a little brush for them to move on to when they are ready for independent brushing. This is available here:
It’s a good idea to start flossing with children’s floss as soon as two teeth are touching each other and your child has the required co-ordination. Normally this is around six years of age.
I’d recommend something colourful and fun like this: http://www.milltownpharmacy.ie/p/kids_1st_junior_flossers
Tips to successful oral hygiene:
- Start early – have your baby used to having something wiped gently off their gums from their first few weeks. This can save a child feeling anxious about the process when teeth to appear.
- If you are having difficulty convincing your little one that brushing their teeth is a good idea try to empower them as much as possible in the process. To do this make a big song and dance about going to buy a new toothbrush and toothpaste. Let them choose between the many designs available for their age group. Let them choose a flavour toothpaste – it comes in mint, bubble gum, berry bubble etc etc! Sticker reward charts are also a good idea – you can set a timer on your phone or on a little alarm clock for two minutes and if they brush for the whole time they get a sticker! In our house 5 stickers = a small piece of chocolate…there’s irony there for sure but I promise we clean our teeth straight away afterwards!!
- Toothbrushes should be replaced about every three months or sooner if the bristles become worn.
- Brush your teeth with your child – lead by example! They will want to copy you and be grown up like you so the best way for them to gain some enthusiasm is to see you enjoying it and doing it correctly every day.
- Find a two minute song or video your child can watch or sing along to whilst brushing which only comes out during teeth cleaning time! Even better do the singing and entertaining yourself – they are sure to get a giggle out of that 🙂
- It’s all about having a regular routine and keeping it positive. Children love routine and can learn to identify brushing their teeth with being a cue for sleep at bed time etc so it’s really useful to incorporate it into the bed time routine.
- Always remember to brush their teeth after their bottle – as tempting as it is to let them fall asleep with their milk – it is leaving a lot of sugar on the teeth which can lead to dental caries.
- Don’t leave juice or milk in their bed at night – if they want a drink after tooth brushing time offer them water to save their smiles!
Thanks for reading, I hope you have found this helpful! As always please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions on the WonderBaba facebook page (www.facebook.com/wonderbabacare ) or by phoning me at Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 on 01-2600262 as I’m always happy to help 🙂