The health of your children’s baby teeth is every bit as important as their future adult teeth. In fact, the good habits that they develop in early childhood will follow them through their transitional dentition, and into adulthood. Knowing how best to guide our kids on this important journey can sometimes be difficult. Often, parents have many questions when it comes to their children’s dental needs, but here are a few of the most commonly asked.
When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?
You can begin cleaning your child’s teeth and gums as the first tooth emerges. This may be done with a wet washcloth or gauze and should be done twice daily.
When your child is 1-2 years of age, change to a soft bristle children’s brush, brushing in small gentle circles. You can add a light smear of low-fluoride toothpaste at around 18 months of age. Between ages 2 and 4, a pea-sized portion is appropriate, and by age 5, a portion roughly equivalent to the size of a bean will do.
When can I let my child brush on their own?
There really is no set age for your child to have the skills to brush on their own. Since every child develops at a slightly different rate, it is a good idea to allow your child to brush for themselves as soon as they show a willingness to do so. Although this will be supervised brushing, it can be empowering for your youngster to perform this task themselves. As a rule of thumb, most children will require supervision or assistance until around age 6.
What if my child refuses to brush?
This is one of the toughest questions to answer, as it is different for every child. If war breaks out every day at brushing time, it is better to be creative than to be insistent. Use positive reinforcement to encourage brushing. Associate it with a fun activity like bath time or a bedtime story. If you can create a positive association between those activities and brushing, you will win the war.
When should I take my child to the dentist?
Most children should have their first dental visit between the ages of 1 and 3 years of age. These initial visits tend to be more informative than therapeutic in nature. They will, however, help your child to become more familiar, and at ease with their dental professional, especially as they reach 3 to 4 years of age. Since most children need little more than a polish at this age, these fun visits can set the stage for a lifetime of stress-free dental care.