As soon as your child’s teeth start to push through the gums, you can start cleaning and brushing them. There are special toothpastes (containing fluoride) and toothbrushes for babies.
You may not be able to brush much at first as your baby starts to get used to the cleaning of the teeth. Don’t worry, the most important thing is for your baby to get used to the brushing of the teeth as part of their daily routine.
Make brushing and cleaning of the teeth a regular activity in the morning and before bedtime, so that the child becomes aware of this daily routine. You can set a good example by letting your child see you brushing your own teeth.
- Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for children, and only a smear of toothpaste for babies.
- Gradually start to clean your child’s teeth more thoroughly. Clean twice per day: morning and before their bedtime.
- If your child resists teeth brushing, keep trying but don’t turn it into a battle. Try to make tooth brushing into a game instead, or brush your own teeth at the same time to encourage your child and to let him see it is a normal part of everyday routine.
- To brush a baby’s teeth, sit your baby on your knee with their head resting against your chest. With an older child, stand beside them or behind them and tilt their head back slightly.
- Brush your child’s teeth in small circular movements covering all surfaces and encourage your child to spit the toothpaste out afterwards. Don’t worry if your baby swallows some or all of the toothpaste – this is normal and tiny amounts will not harm your baby.
- Try not to rinse with too much water as this removes fluoride left on the teeth after brushing.
- An alternative way of brushing a baby’s teeth is to wrap a piece of damp gauze or muslin cloth with a small amount of toothpaste over your finger and rub this over the baby’s gums and teeth.
- Continue to help your child to brush their teeth until they can do it themselves unaided. Usually, this will be until they are at least 7 years old.
- Give your child plenty of encouragement and praise whilst he/she is learning to bush their teeth independently.
- Disclosing tablets can be purchased – these are small pills that when chewed will turn plaque into a bright colour (normally pink) and highlight the areas that need brushing. This will help the child see all the areas that they have missed when brushing.