Preventing tooth decay and oral diseases in children is important to long-term oral health, and good oral hygiene is essential even in infants.
Even the tiniest babies can benefit from some form of oral care. Before the first teeth erupt, you can wipe your child’s gums with a warm washcloth after every meal. This action may also be comforting and soothing to tender gums as your child begins to teethe.
After the teeth begin to come in, you can take additional steps to ensure that your child’s smile stays healthy. When the first tooth appears, you can start using an infant toothbrush with very soft bristles, accompanied by either water or a tiny amount of toothpaste.
Many parents opt for fluoride-free toothpaste in very young children, who are not likely to understand the importance of spitting out the toothpaste and may be prone to ingesting it. When too much fluoride is consumed, it can stain the teeth.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends setting up a child's initial visit to the dentist before his or her first birthday.
As children get older, you can switch to a sturdier, child-sized brush and use a larger amount of toothpaste. You can also introduce flossing as additional teeth emerge, taking care to be especially gentle at first and if your child has severe crowding of the teeth.
Continue to brush and and floss for your child until the point when your child has developed adequate motor skills to manage the oral hygiene routine independently. You should also be sure to show your child that you are dedicated to your own daily regimen so that you are serving as a good role model for a child who looks up to you.
Work in conjunction with a pediatric dentist when creating an oral hygiene routine for a very young child. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends setting up a child’s initial visit to the dentist before his or her first birthday.
Of course, professional cleanings are just as important for children as they are for adults, so schedule regular appointments for your children at the same time when you’re headed to the office for your own checkup.