How to care for your child's teeth and gums

How to care for your child's teeth and gums

When to start brushing a baby's teeth

Oral and dental hygiene can commence when your child is just a baby, as soon as the first teeth appear. You can start by using a clean damp cloth, gauze pad, or soft rubber or silicone finger brush to wipe the teeth and tongue after meals and before bed. Alternatively brushing gently with a soft paediatric bristle brush that has three rows of bristles, and using water and a minute amount of toothpaste can be attempted...

You may, in time, opt for a slightly larger toothbrush and add a small amount of your child's favourite flavoured toothpaste. You will find that toothpastes for this age range are generally safe to swallow. When your child has reached the age where he or she can use a fluoride-based toothpaste on their own, you can teach them how to spit and rinse.

You will find that your child may need your assistance or at least supervision in brushing their teeth until around the age of 8 years old. This is the time when you can upgrade them to a bigger toothbrush. It is also recommended that you change toothbrushes every three to six months.

Ensuring that your child understands the importance of oral hygiene as they grow is vitally important. Having a good oral hygiene routine early on sets the tone for the years that follow. You can make this process fun and something for your child to enjoy.

Here are a few tips:

  • Allow your child to choose their own toothbrush (with your guidance of course). Let them choose one that has their favourite cartoon character on it or that is their favourite colour.
  • Let your child decide on the flavour of the toothpaste that they'll be using each day.
  • Do some research or watch video clips together that elaborate on the importance of brushing your teeth and what happens if you don't.
  • Use a stop watch or a timer to ensure that your children brush their teeth for a minimum of two minutes.
  • Come up with a song or game to make brushing teeth entertaining.
  • Having a reward system like a star chart is a great idea to let children know that when they brush their teeth they're doing a great job. Avoid giving children sugary treats as a reward.