Whether your client is a first time parent or well-seasoned, they often have lots of questions and concerns about what they need to do to get their children off to a good start with dental care. You are their best source for information and support for their young child’s dental care. Some questions they might have to promote good oral health and preventing tooth decay for their little ones are; when should they start cleaning? Do they wait until the first tooth comes in or should they start with just brushing their baby’s gums?
Proper cleaning is necessary, and should begin even before their baby has any teeth. They should wipe the gums off after each feeding with a warm, wet washcloth or a dampened piece of gauze wrapped around their finger. They can also buy infant finger brushes which are thimble-like, soft rubbery devices that fit over their index finger, to use for rubbing off excess food.
Once teeth begin coming in, parents should start taking care of them right away. Unfortunately, many parents think baby teeth aren't important because they're eventually replaced by permanent ones. However, these first teeth preserve the spacing for the permanent ones and help their baby chew and talk. If they're not cared for properly, they can decay, leading to gingivitis, which can affect the spacing of their permanent teeth.
How to Brush Baby’s Teeth
Parents can brush their baby’s teeth after each meal or at a minimum, twice a day. Parents should use an infant finger brush or an infant toothbrush moistened with tap water and no more than a pea-sized amount of children’s toothpaste. Gently brush all sides (front, back and sides) of their baby’s teeth and lightly massage their gums. Follow with some water to help rinse away any leftover residue from the toothpaste. Until the child reaches an age of 2-3 (when they can be taught to spit after brushing) they will likely swallow the toothpaste, but the small amount being used won’t do any harm to them.
Tips for a Baby that Hates Tooth Brushing
Some babies won’t like tooth brushing time at all, which can make it difficult for them and the parents trying to do the brushing. If you have a patient with this particular issue here are some tips you can give them that might help ease some of the tension during tooth brush time.
- Easy Does It: Remind them that their baby’s gums are very sensitive, even before they begin teething, so have them start with a soft wash cloth to help get their baby used to brushing process.
- Sing a Song: Sometimes a little distraction is all they need! Have them sing their baby’s favorite song or make a special, goofy song they sing just for tooth brushing time. This will not only help distract their baby, but also make the time more fun.
- Demostrate: Make tooth brushing about family time. Mom and/or Dad can brush their teeth first, while baby watches, then they can move on to their baby’s teeth. Seeing mom and dad do it first can help take away some of the consternation.
- Let them Play: Let them play with the toothbrush or finger brush (under adult supervision) before hand to let them get used to it. And there is a good chance that while they are playing with the baby toothbrush, it will end up in their mouth.
We have lots of cool stuff to give to your young patients and their parents to help make brushing time and their trips to the dentist a lot less stressful. Contact us today to learn more about improving dental health for the whole family!