Let’s face it, oral health is generally not considered a priority until our kids have actual teeth to brush. And perhaps, on some level, we may not want to deal with our baby’s getting older, so put this on hold until it’s necessary. Whatever your reasons may be, this Oral Health Month, we look into positive reinforcing dental habits parents can teach their little ones, from as early as birth.
Guide to effective oral hygiene
0 – 6 months
Cleaning your baby’s mouth from birth is the best time to begin. Starting early creates familiarity and encourages good habits from the onset. Cleaning at this stage is simple.
According to Tooth Club, this is the best method:
Step 1: Sanitise and clean your hands – this is most important because you don’t want to spread germs to your baby
Step 2: Take a clean cotton pad, gauze or cloth and wrap it around your finger
Step 3: Dip your wrapped finger into some water
Step 4: Softly rub the inside of your baby’s gums to cleanse
6 months – 12 months
During this time your baby’s first teeth are most likely to start peeking through. When this happens, you need to start brushing those little pearls and ensuring they are safe from plague and build-up.
According to whattoexpect.com, you can now upgrade to cleaning baby’s gums with a soft silicone brush which goes over your index finger. This helps to massage and soothe swollen teething gums.
1 – 3 years
Tiny Habits Academy shares that from as young as 2 months old your little one can detect patterns; and by 4 months old they can recall missing objects and events from a particular scenario. It’s safe to say that starting early and encouraging good oral hygiene will create ideal habits that ensure your child develops strong, healthy teeth.
Dental Health Services Victoria tells of the best way to brush teeth at this age:
Step 1: Put a small pea-sized amount of low-fluoride toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush – this assists in removing plaque and preventing tooth decay
Step 2: When showing your child how to brush their teeth, put them on your lap with their back towards you, or stand behind them looking into a mirror – this gives you the best angle to brush gently
Step 3: With teeth together, brush in a circular motion around your child’s mouth
Step 4: Have them open their mouth and brush the inside of their teeth in a circular motion. Do this for both the top and bottom set of teeth
Step 5: After doing circular motions on the inside of the teeth closest to the gum, brush the surface of the teeth in a back and forward motion
Step 6: Finally, have them spit out all the toothpaste and rinse. It is also good to incorporate a good mouthwash to add to the fun. Let them gargle and play with it in their mouths to clean between teeth and leave the mouths feeling fresh and smelling great
In addition to good oral health care, make your little ones aware of the impact of the foods they eat on their teeth. Encourage them to choose healthy options that strengthen and aide in the longevity of strong healthy teeth.