In honor of National Children's Dental Health Month I wanted to create a post that answers some of the questions I get asked the most about caring for tiny teeth.
When should I start brushing my child's teeth?
Most people would think that it would make the most sense to start brushing your child's teeth as soon as they have their first tooth (around 6 months). But, establishing good oral habits starts before that! Getting your child used to an oral healthcare routine early on can help them become comfortable and make a positive connection with brushing and flossing later on.
Starting with your infant you can use your finger or a warm, soft rag to gently rub the gums morning and night, or at least once a day. You can also use a finger toothbrush or early learning teether/toothbrush like the ones listed below:
Once your child cuts his or her first tooth (around 6 months), you can upgrade to a starter toothbrush. Make sure it has soft, rounded bristles and small head to fit in tiny mouths.
There are many great options for toothbrushes on the market, these are just a few choices.
How often should I be brushing my child's teeth?
It's best to brush your child's teeth twice a day, morning and night. It's best to brush after breakfast so food particles aren't sitting on the teeth all day, and then right before bedtime to remove all food particles before a long night's sleep.
How long should brushing take?
You should brush for at least two minutes. I find that using a timer makes it fun! You can use a colorful sand timer an app for your smart phone that plays a fun song, or there are a number of toothbrushing YouTube videos for your children to brush to! Whatever you find that works best for you to get that brushing time in is best!
When should I start flossing?
It might seem like flossing is only beneficial when children have teeth that are close together or catch food. But, actually flossing reaching surfaces between the teeth and below the gumline that standard brushing cannot reach. It is necessary to disturb the colonization of bacteria that create acids that break down healthy teeth. There are a number of fun flavored flossers with and without fluoride that make flossing easy and fun! Flossing should start as soon as there are two teeth in the mouth that are touching.
When should I make my child's first dental visit?
You should schedule a dental visit as soon as your child has their first tooth, or at least by the age of one. It is important to get your child comfortable with a dental office. Building a positive relationship with the dental office smells, sounds, and staff can help to overcome any anxiety your child may have towards dental visits in the future. Usually the first few visits will just include getting the child in the chair, seeing if they will open their mouth, showing them the tools and instruments and letting them get used to the idea of having someone besides mom and dad brushing their teeth. Happy visits with the dentist every six months are always a good idea to help establish trust with your child's provider and help you build the skills to care for your child's teeth.
I hope this has helped answer some of your questions. If you have any other questions feel free to send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a consult call with me. I love to answer questions and help make dental care easy and accessible for everyone.