All About Your Child's Dental Health
A good dental health is key to overall health - and this is true even for children. Starting early helps set good dental hygiene habits from the get go. Let us take a look at how to take care of children's oral hygiene and make it fun:
When is a good time to start brushing teeth?
From the time you see the first tooth. Typically this happens any time between 4 to 18 months.
Which toothbrush and toothpaste? How much?
Start with a silicone finger brush with soft bristles. A rice-grain sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste is enough to start with. Babies are able to spit between 2-3 years. Switch to a toothbrush with a small head when the child has several teeth. Toddlers over 3 can use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
What if the baby swallows toothpaste?
Try to keep the baby's head slightly downward so that the extra toothpaste dribbles down. Wipe their mouth and gums with water after brushing before they learn to spit. A little amount of toothpaste, if swallowed, is okay - too much of it can cause an upset tummy.
What else can be done for a good oral health?
- Offer a few sips of water after every meal.
- Avoid sticky, sugary treats. Good idea to offer them alongside meals. This includes packaged treats as well as supposedly 'healthy' foods like dates, raisins, dried figs, and dried berries. They are high on concentrated sugars so best to pair them with other snacks instead of offering on their own.
- Brush twice a day, every day.
- Wean bottles once the child is over a year old, most definitely for the night feeds. Any milk other than direct breastfeeding during the night pools in the mouth and can lead to caries and decay.
- Encourage child to eat more fruits and veggies - and limit sugary drinks including juices. Lead by example.
- Get a regular assessment done by a pediatric dentist. Once a year is great, and more frequently if there are any obvious dental issues.
How to make brushing fun for the littles?
- Start with letting them choose their own toothbrush.
- A step stool which helps them look into the mirror while you brush their teeth can help.
- Be gentle while brushing their teeth.
- Make it a family ritual to brush together.
- Invest in story books that talk about brushing teeth. Reading Tiger's Toothbrush every night before brushing helped with our toddler.
- Let the toddlers brush their favorite toy's teeth.
The consequences of a poor dental health are obvious and can be far worse than just unhealthy teeth. A poor dental health can lead to infections since the mouth can be the perfect breeding ground for a lot of harmful bacteria.