Having had multiple dentist visits in the recent past, I cannot stress enough on the importance of oral hygiene and teach our toddlers how to care for their teeth. Since children have their milk teeth for the initial years before they erupt, often oral hygiene sometimes takes a backseat in the initial years.
But the habits that we teach in the formative years stick around the most. And often, as parents we are not too sure about the right time to start brushing, fluoride or non-fluoride, when to visit the doctor, what to do about cavities and other aspects of teeth care. Here are some tips to help you understand how to take care of your toddlers’ teeth
What is the right age to start brushing teeth for children?
Brushing should start as soon as your baby’s first tooth erupts. Starting with a very tiny almost grain sized amount of toothpaste to eventually moving to a pea-sized amount once they have more teeth erupting. Most dentists advise brushing your children’s teeth till they can manage to use the toothbrush. Also, until the age of 8 or 9, supervise while they brush and help them out if you think they are not able to manage on their own,
Which toothpaste and toothbrushes should we use?
Use the soft silicone brushes that fit into your fingers till their first 3-4 teeth erupt. Post that you can transition to a small toothbrush with soft bristles.
There are multiple opinions about using toothpaste with or without fluoride for your babies. But most dentists suggest using fluoride toothpaste in the right amount and under supervision. But before making your decision on this do consult with your child’s doctor and dentist and make your decision accordingly.
When is the right time to visit the dentist?
You should take your baby to the dentist for the first time after 6 months of the first tooth erupting. Of course, if you feel the need it could be earlier as well. Make sure to discuss your frequency of checkups with the dentist coz prevention is always better than cure. And if there are decays/ cavities you would want them to be detected as early as possible.
Do eating and drinking habits affect their teeth?
Both eating and drinking habits impact teeth health. Few things that should be avoided to make sure of good teeth health are
- Avoiding putting the baby to sleep while drinking milk from the bottle or while nursing
- A preferable transition from a bottle directly to a glass to avoid sippy cups. These too can lead to decay on the front teeth if the drinks are sugary
- Avoid junk food, sweets and juices to make sure the teeth of your toddlers remain healthy
How to encourage brushing teeth?
Make brushing time fun for your children. Play their fav rhymes and tell them that they must brush till the rhyme is on and stop after the rhymes get over. This would ensure that they spend the required time brushing. I often tell the kids- You don’t have to brush all your teeth… only the ones you want to keep. So, make brushing time fun and it soon becomes a habit