As soon as possible, it is important to start cleaning your child’s mouth. There’s no reason to wait until the first tooth breaks through.
Before your child has teeth, it is recommended that you wipe your baby’s gums with a damp gauze pad or washcloth. Not only does this remove plaque and remaining food, it also gets your child used the sensation of cleaning his/her mouth.
Once the teeth start coming in, it’s time to switch over to a toothbrush and get your child in the habit of brushing in the morning when they wake up and in the evening before bed. The American Dental Association recommends that an adult brushes a child’s teeth until they are at least six years old and that an adult should watch them once they start brushing on their own.
When you’re brushing your child’s teeth, you may want to slather the toothbrush in toothpaste to make your child’s teeth extra clean, but that’s completely unnecessary. Instead, eyeball the proper amount of toothpaste. For children under three years old, the fluoride toothpaste on the brush should be about the size of a grain of rice. If your child under 3 is swallowing toothpaste, you may want to hold off on fluoride toothpaste to prevent him/her from getting sick. For children 3 to 6 years old, the fluoride toothpaste is increased to a pea sized amount.
To properly brush your child’s teeth, position him/her in your lap, so that you can see inside their mouth easily. This will also make it easier to keep the toothbrush against the gum line at a 45-degree angle. While the brush is in your child’s mouth, gently brush back and forth in tooth-width strokes, making sure to get inside surfaces and hard to reach corners. After the teeth are cleaned, don’t forget to brush your child’s tongue. This will remove more bacteria from his/her mouth.
If you have any questions, Dr. Makrauer and Dr. Miller at Huntingdon Valley Dental Arts are more than happy to provide advice on how to properly brush your child’s teeth.