Looking after your child’s teeth
The importance of brushing your teeth is a notion that is wise to instil in children from an early age. If you are able to provide a routine for your child whereby they are aware of how often they need to brush their teeth, the likelihood is that they will carry a positive attitude towards oral health as they grow up.
You can begin the process from a very young age. For babies, you can use a soft toothbrush to brush their gums at bath time, even allowing them to do so themselves if supervised. This will go some way to establishing a habit of brushing teeth when washing. As soon as your baby’s first tooth appears, you may use a fluoride toothpaste to begin brushing – it is important to use a fluoride toothpaste as this will go a long way towards the prevention of tooth decay from an early stage.
For children under three years of age, it is best to ask your dentist for a recommendation on the specific toothpaste you should use to brush their teeth. In terms of how much toothpaste you should use, an amount the size and shape of a pea should suffice. With children at this age, it is important to remember that they typically like the taste of the toothpastes they brush with, so keep an eye on them to make sure they do not consume any toothpastes directly from the tube.
Cleaning a young child’s teeth should take around two minutes and should be done twice a day, ensuring that one is done just before bed time. Your child should be told to spit out any toothpaste left in the mouth, but do not perform a thorough rinse with water, as this can nullify the positive effects of a toothpaste.
It would be advisable to watch over your child as they brush their teeth up until the age of seven or eight years. This can be done by virtue of either direct supervision, or you and your child can brush your teeth together. Once your child reaches the stage at which you feel confidently that they will responsibly brush their teeth as and when they should, it is still a good idea to supervise them occasionally in order to ensure they are doing so correctly.
There are a few pointers that can help you ascertain whether or not your child is brushing their teeth properly. They should:
a) Be using the correct movement/motion (guide your child on this if necessary)
b) Brush for exactly two minutes, and use a stopwatch or timer so that your child is aware.
c) Provide a mirror so that your child can clearly see what they are doing.
d) Be pro-active in ensuring that your child does not use their toothbrush as a toy, or run around with their toothbrush in their mouth.