Many new parents constantly ask us how to brush their childrens' teeth without screaming and crying. Here are some tips for taking care of your young childrens' teeth. There may be a little crying in the process, but rest assured that you are not actually torturing your child (although they may act like it).
1. Bring your child to the dentist early.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that all children see the dentist after their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday, whichever comes first. Seeing the dentist when children are young is vital for familiarizing children with the process of brushing their teeth. It is also a way to educate parents on how to care for their young children's teeth to prevent them from developing cavities.
2. Clean your children's teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts.
Even though your infant may only have one or two teeth, it is very important to begin brushing them. You can wipe them with a damp washcloth, use a finger toothbrush with water on it, or a baby toothbrush with water. You want to brush your infant's teeth in the morning and at night, after the last bottle before bed. This will prevent plaque buildup on the teeth which can lead to baby bottle cavities.
3. Never put a bottle with anything other than water in your child's crib.
Do not put your child to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice in his/her crib. These beverages contain sugar. If consumed throughout the night without brushing afterwards, baby bottle cavities can occur.
4. Brush your toddler's teeth with a small amount of toothpaste.
Once your toddler has a few teeth you can begin brushing with toothpaste. You may use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice) or a fluoride free training toothpaste. Young children do not understand how to spit the toothpaste out after brushing so it is best to brush with only a small amount to prevent swallowing excessive amounts of toothpaste.
5. Lay your child's head in your lap when brushing.
The best way to thoroughly brush your child's teeth is to lay them down with their head in your lap. You will have the most control and best access to their teeth. You may have to gently hold down squirmy children.
6. Make brushing fun!
Try to listen to a song or play a game with your child to make brushing fun. After you brush their teeth let them try it on their own (you can even let them try brushing your teeth, but make sure they use your toothbrush!)
We hope these tips help you manage the toothbrushing struggle with your kids. We are always here to help so reach out if you need any more advice!