If you have children, it can be a worry to know whether they are getting the best possible start to life for their teeth. As a parent you want the best for your children and the same goes for oral hygiene. Did you know that even as a baby the teeth are present, just waiting to come through the gums? Teeth actually begin to grow in a baby’s jaw during the second trimester of pregnancy so thinking about oral health early on really does make sense.
Getting set on the right path early on begins with making sure your youngster is not spending too much time sucking on a bottle as the sugars in milk and juice can damage the enamel on teeth and it is advisable to introduce a drinking cup from around 6 months onwards.
As soon as teeth begin to appear through the gum, you can begin gently brushing with a child friendly toothpaste that contains fluoride. You will only need a spot about the size of a grain of rice. Children from the age of 3 can use a pea sized amount of toothpaste but all children under the age of 6 should definitely be supervised to avoid swallowing the toothpaste.
So how can we make teeth brushing a regular routine that is fun and doesn’t turn into a bathroom battleground? Firstly, brushing teeth should become a part of your daily routine right from the start so it becomes a normal part of life and doesn’t come as any surprise to your little one. If you come across resistance to the idea then make sure your child is comfortable by getting a step so they can easily reach the sink and see themselves in the mirror.
Copying grown ups or older siblings is another way to make brushing fun and little ones love acting like big people! Brush your teeth at the same time and encourage older siblings to join in too so it becomes a fun, family activity and you can be sure that your youngster will be thrilled to get involved. Make sure their equipment is appropriate and their toothbrush is bright and colourful to make the experience as fun as possible.
Other methods that are helpful include distraction tactics if you are really struggling to encourage your little one. There are toothbrushes that play tunes and these are also useful just the recommended length of time for a good, effective brush. You could play your own music or their favourite song and encourage brushing until the music stops. Alternatively make it a time when you read a favourite story or make up a teeth themed tale or funny rhyme together. The key to success is to not lose your temper and make threats as this will only make oral hygiene a thing to be feared.
Most importantly, encourage your child to feel they have some responsibility over their teeth and gums. You could include a reward chart with gold star stickers for a job well done and help to foster a life long routine of respect and care for dental health