How to Get an Early Start on Your Child’s Dental Care
As we are fast learning, trying to brush a toddler’s teeth is easier said than done. My first comment to parents with a concern about the health of their young child’s teeth is that it all begins with proper nutrition. I often call vegetables “Mother Nature’s Toothbrush.” I strongly urge parents to feed their kids REAL FOOD and to avoid artificial and processed foods as much as possible. That being said, brushing their teeth is an important habit of building early on.
A baby’s 20 primary teeth are already present in the jaws at birth. Those baby teeth that begin coming through the gums around six months help set the stage for future smiles by keeping space in the jaw for adult teeth. Start your child off with good dental care and help protect their teeth for decades to come. Here’s how:
- Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. As soon as teeth appear, decay can occur. A baby’s front four teeth usually push through the gums at about six months of age, although some children don’t have their first tooth until 12 or 14 months.
Until you’re comfortable that your child can brush on his or her own, continue to brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a child-size toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. When your child has two teeth that touch, you should begin flossing their teeth daily.
- For children younger than three years, caregivers should start brushing children’s teeth as soon as they begin to come into the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician.
Supervise children brushing teeth to ensure that they use the appropriate amount of toothpaste. Some parents might want to try a new model – the 360-degree toothbrush – that allows the child to chew on or twirl the head and clean their teeth in the process.
- For children 3 to 6 years of age, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise children’s brushing and remind them not to swallow the toothpaste.
All parents want their children to have a healthy smile. Start early with their dental checkups. Help them get to know their dentist and feel comfortable during the regular visits. Ask for advice on any problems you are having with the brushing and flossing home care.
Remember, healthy teeth make your healthy smile!
Dr. Nishan Halim
Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in adult and pediatric restorative and cosmetic dentistry, as well as preventive dentistry, which is at the heart of this Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center. He is committed to helping all his patients maintain healthy and attractive teeth. To find out more schedule an appointment at your convenience.