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It’s a big milestone when your little one gets his or her first tooth. It means that adorable little toothless smile you’re so used to seeing will soon be gone. It means that your baby is growing. It also means it’s time to start caring for those little pearly whites! Read on for everything you need to know about infant and toddler oral care!
Dental Health for Kids
Most kids start to pop their first tooth around six months of age and by the time they’re three, they’ll have all 20 primary teeth. Even before your child gets a tooth, it’s important to keep their mouths clean!
- Clean your infant’s gums with a clean cloth and cool water.
- Once your infant has a tooth, you can start using a real toothbrush with water. Be sure to choose one that’s small and soft and made specifically for infants, like this MAM training brush designed for babies 6 months and older.
- For children who are 12 months old (or older) and have several teeth, it’s important to brush 2 times a day, now using toothpaste.
- The American Dental Association recommends using small “smear of fluoridated toothpaste” for kids until age 2. Once kids are able to grasp the concept of spitting, (usually around age 2) a pea sized amount will do.
- Once your child has two teeth next to each other, you should begin flossing daily as well.
- Make sure you brush your children’s teeth to ensure they’re cleaned properly, and let them have a chance to brush too. You can use this toothbrush set that has a baby toothbrush, as well as a longer handle brush for the adult to finish the job.
What to expect when you take your child to the dentist:
- The American Dental Association recommends you take your child to the dentist for the first time when your child gets his or her 1st tooth, or around their 1st birthday–whichever happens first.
- Be sure to find a pediatric dentist. They have additional training in caring for children’s teeth and often have very kid-friendly offices.
- The first visit is usually nothing serious. Most times the dentist just wants to meet your child, check out his or her teeth and count how many are there.
- After the check up the dentist will discuss good oral hygiene with you and your child, and discuss a schedule of dental check- ups.
- The ADA recommends a check up every 6 months.
- Be honest with the dentist. If your child uses a pacifier or sucks his or her thumb, let the dentist know. Both of these things can affect the teeth and jaw, and it’s best to tell your dentist so he or she can assess your child properly.
- Discuss your child’s fluoride needs with your dentist.
Brushing Your Child’s Teeth
We know it can be difficult to get kids to want to brush their teeth.Try these tips to make brushing more fun with your little ones.
- Make up a silly “brush your teeth” song and sing it every time you brush. Or pick one of your kid’s favorite songs and sing that one. Laugh as your child tries to sing while brushing!
- Set a timer and challenge your child to brush the entire time the timer is going. Most smart phones have timers, or use the kitchen timer. (The ADA recommends brushing for 2-3 minutes.) Or try the Firefly Toothbrush that lights up to indicate how much longer your child should brush for!
- Brush your teeth with your child so they can watch you and mimic you. If you have a reluctant brusher, you may even want to get matching toothbrushes for you and your child to make it more fun.
- Many children want to brush their own teeth and don’t want to let their parents help. If this sounds like your child, try letting him or her help you brush your teeth. They’ll get a kick out of helping mom or dad and will be more likely to let you help them.
- Let your child have some control. Let your child pick out his or her own toothbrush and toothpaste. When it’s time to brush, give them a turn first, and then you can follow up and finish the job for them. You can use this toothbrush set that has a baby toothbrush, as well as a longer handle brush for the adult to finish the job.
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