Did you know that you should begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts?
Here’s how your child can keep those pearly whites!
Child Development and the Toothbrush
As soon as your child has a tooth, it’s important to start brushing teeth to provide the foundation for a healthy mouth. Healthy teeth are all one color, so be sure to visit the dentist if you see stains or spots. The first tooth to erupt also signals that it’s time to visit the dentist. As a child’s motor development progresses, he or she will be able to gain more independence in the bathroom, including teeth brushing. But what are the right steps to take to ensure your child has great oral health?
Start Early and Help Often
When that first tooth appears, it is safe to use a very small amount of toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice, and clean the teeth at least twice a day. It’s best to make teeth brushing part of your daily routine and brush right after breakfast and again before bedtime. At three years old, it is safe to use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, according to HealthyChildren.org. When your child is able to learn and repeat, teach your child to spit out excess toothpaste but do not rinse with water just yet. Your child’s muscle development and involuntary and voluntary swallowing will need to develop before they can safely rinse with water without swallowing extra toothpaste. As your child begins to hone his or her fine motor skills and gain more independence, you can let them use their own toothbrush. It is important that you supervise all toothbrushing until 7 or 8 years of age. As a rule of thumb, put the toothpaste on the toothbrush until your child is 6 years old and be available to help them thoroughly brush until 7-8.
Turn tooth brushing into a Montessori-inspired activity in your home! You can create a child-sized tooth brushing station complete with child sized chair, mirror, toothbrush, sink (if possible) or have a stool that allows the adult-sized sink to be accessible and have all the materials your child will need to work on brushing together!
Keep a Healthy Mouth
A healthy oral cavity doesn’t just involve brushing! Eating a healthy, balanced diet that is low in sugar helps fight cavities, too! For example, sticky foods like raisins can get lodged in the tooth and can be stuck there for days, even with brushing! For younger children that still use bottles, do not put sweet drinks (including milk) in the bottle at bedtime and be sure that your child doesn't sleep with the bottle in his or her mouth. The sugary drinks can wreak havoc on your child’s teeth while he or she is fast asleep. Keep in mind that your child should be using a drinking cup by 1 year of age.
Turn a chore into a fun activity that you and your child can do together! Brushing teeth is an important part of your child’s daily routine, but don’t forget to make it fun! It can also be a time that you and your child can spend laughing and bonding together, which is essential during those super busy days!