Tips for Brushing
Taking care of your child’s mouth starts early. Brushing is an important habit that ensures your child’s teeth stay healthy and cavity-free, and that their adult teeth develop and erupt properly when ready. At Gallatin Valley Pediatric Dentistry, we can help you help your child to develop proper brushing techniques so that their mouth remains healthy and their smile stays beautiful for their whole life.
Oral Care Before Tooth Eruption
Taking care of teeth begins before the teeth even erupt. Starting at a very young age, you can gently clean your child’s gums with a damp washcloth after each feeding. This helps to remove sugars from their gums as well as gets your child used to the idea of oral care. A cool, damp washcloth also serves as an excellent teething tool. Not only will your child be removing sugars and bacteria while gnawing on the cloth, but they will also be able to alleviate the pain of baby teeth erupting.
Brushing After the Eruption of the First Baby Tooth
The first baby tooth generally erupts around the age of 6 months. Some babies get teeth sooner, some later. When the first tooth erupts, you should begin to use a soft-bristled toothbrush designed for babies and toddlers. Use only a tiny smear of toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice and brush their teeth twice a day. Continue to clean their gums as well. If you use the toothbrush, make sure that you are very gentle so that you do not irritate their sensitive gum tissue.
Brushing for Pre-Schoolers
Around the age of 3, you can begin to use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Use a fluoridated toothpaste, but make sure that your child has mastered spitting out their toothpaste as they brush. Ingesting too much fluoride can be detrimental to their teeth.
Your child may also start to exhibit more independence around this age, and want to brush their teeth on their own. This is fine and encouraged. Make sure that you stay with your child and watch them as they brush. Once they are finished, go over their teeth again to make sure that you get the spots they have missed. If your child is averse to the idea of brushing, you can help to make it more fun. Sing songs, play music, make it a game. You can also give them the freedom to choose their very own toothbrush. When brushing is fun, your child may be more likely to want to do it.
As your child gets older and gets more practice, they will become better at brushing their teeth. Around the age of 8, they should be able to brush their teeth independently. You should continue to monitor them, but you can do it from afar. You can also still help them by guiding them toward the right kinds of toothbrushes, only extra-soft or soft bristled toothbrushes. Older children should be using toothbrushes with longer necks and larger heads than toddler toothbrushes. There are still plenty of fun colors and characters for your child to choose from.
Brushing is an essential habit for everyone to have, including children. For more tips on how to help your child to brush, or to schedule an appointment, call Gallatin Valley Pediatric Dentistry at 406-224-4272 today.