You may not need a toothbrush yet, but there are other dental tools meant to care for infant gums including sleeves that slip over your finger and bristle-less brushes meant to wipe bacteria from gums after meals. Even a clean washcloth will do the trick!
Once the first tooth erupts, start brushing.
“Brushing twice daily and flossing especially before nighttime is key,” says Dr. Rafat S. Razi, a pediatric dentist who practices in Tracy.
Specific recommendations may change on a case-by-case basis but the rule of thumb is that flossing should begin as soon as the gaps between teeth close (around three years old) and brushing or wiping should begin immediately. Additional brushing after sugary snacks is also recommended.
Don’t let a child eat or give a baby a bottle after nighttime brushing; this can lead to tooth decay and cavities. Instead, only allow water after brushing.
Not only will these habits keep your child’s mouth clean, starting early will instill good dental practices in your child. The child who brushes twice daily as a toddler is more likely to continue the practice into adulthood.
It’s also important to make sure brushing is effective. Use circular motions (an electric toothbrush can help) over all teeth for two minutes, and don’t forget to brush the tongue!
If the water in your area does not contain fluoride (some areas of San Joaquin County do so always check with your local agency), buy fluoride supplements for your child. Fluoride not only prevents tooth decay by strengthening the enamel and making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks caused by plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth, it can actually reverse the effects of early decay, as well.
While caring for your child’s teeth at home is important, it is equally important to see a dentist early and often. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends children have their first dental appointment within six months of the first tooth eruption or by their first birthday, whichever comes first.
Consult an Expert:
Rafat S. Razi, DMD, MPH
2160 W. Grant Line Rd., Ste. 130, Tracy
Kids Care Dental
“Taking your child in early—first tooth or first birthday—can help you set them up for dental success for years to come,” – Dr. Jeff McComb, Pediatrics Dental Director, Kids Care Dental