Good dental hygiene starts within the first months of your baby’s life. Here are a few ways to make sure your child’s smile stays beautiful and healthy.
1. Clean your child’s teeth everyday—even if they haven’t grown in yet!
Even before babies grow their first tooth, it’s a good idea to carefully clean their gums with a soft, wet washcloth after each feeding or meal. Once their teeth come in, brush them gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush at least twice a day and, if possible, after each meal.
2. Help your little ones brush their teeth.
Most children lack the motor skills to brush their teeth on their own, so you should supervise their efforts until they turn 6 or so. A good, effective brushing lasts between 2 and 3 minutes. Brush your toddler’s teeth by moving the brush in circles (not horizontally) and try not to press too hard.
3. Use tiny amounts of fluoride toothpaste.
For younger children, it’s best to use a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste, about the equivalent of a grain of rice for children under 2 and of the size of a pea between 2 and 6. It’s important to make sure your child doesn’t swallow fluoride toothpaste as that could lead to dental fluorosis, which can cause white specks to appear on the teeth.
4. Be a good role model.
As you’ve probably noticed, your children love to imitate you. Show them oral health is important by making sure you and the rest of your family practice impeccable dental hygiene. Make toothbrushing fun and adopt a positive, encouraging attitude.
5. Watch what your children put in their mouths.
The mouth of a newborn does not contain the bacteria that cause cavities. Rather, these are transmitted through the objects your baby puts in his mouth (pacifier, toys, utensils, etc.), or food contaminated by the saliva of an adult or another child. It is not recommended to let babies fall asleep with their bottles of milk or juice, as these liquids contain sugar that could affect the tooth enamel.
6. Visit the dentist at least once a year.
Regular visits to the dentist will help avoid dental problems like cavities or gum disease, which may require long, expensive treatments that could be much more stressful for your child than a routine exam. While you’re there, be sure to ask your dentist any questions you may have about taking good care of your child’s teeth.
Did you know?
By showing your child how to adopt good oral hygiene at a young age, not only will you help ensure his teeth will stay healthy, but you will also contribute to his good overall health.
For example, children with healthy teeth have an easier time chewing and absorb more of the healthy nutrients found in foods.
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