Oral Care for Children – how to make it fun!

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The key to establishing good brushing habits is starting an oral care program early; another reason to help your child learn to brush is that this helps them develop a crucial habit which will last a lifetime.

So try to use the following steps in this sequence:

After birth by days:

In fact, the American Dental Association suggests that you begin cleaning your baby's mouth the first few days after birth. By taking a wet washcloth and wipe your baby's gums, this accomplishes three things:

  • It removes plaque that accumulates on the gums. Plaque is a sticky substance containing mucus, food debris, and bacteria. Removing plaque prevents bacteria from building up on your child's gums.
  • It gets your child accustomed to having a clean, plaque-free mouth. When your child is accustomed to a clean, plaque-free mouth, they will usually take steps, including brushing, to keep this clean feeling.
  • It gets your child accustomed to you "meddling" in their mouth. When your child becomes accustomed to you "meddling" in their mouth, it becomes easier for you to brush their teeth later. It also makes it easier for the dentist to examine and work in their mouths at a date later.

The First Baby Teeth:

The baby's first teeth appear, on average, about six months after birth. Parents may notice excessive salivation and the child may become irritable while these first teeth are coming in. When teeth appear, use a cotton swab daily to gently wipe the teeth and remove plaque. If your child has not grown up tolerating you "meddling in their mouth”, you may have a much tougher problem. If your child is two years of age and their teeth have not been brushed and inspected by you, in all probability, plaque has not been sufficiently removed.

Brushing Your Child's Teeth

Despite the protests and the fight your child may give you, it is extremely important that you brush their teeth to reduce the amount of plaque causing bacteria in their mouths. Parents, in fact, are responsible for making sure their children's teeth are clean until the child reaches five to six years of age! On average, younger children do not have the manual dexterity required to brush teeth effectively.

Make It Fun!

The key to getting your child to brush is to make it fun. Start your program today and look for fun ways to engage your children in the activity. Make it seem as if brushing is a fun thing to do rather than a chore which must be done. One method that is fun and effective is introducing it to your child as a game, allowing your children to brush your teeth. You should laugh a lot and make it a fun activity. Then allow them to "brush" their own teeth. Finish by brushing your child's teeth.You may want to include older siblings in the activity. Alternatively, have your child brush their favorite doll's teeth before you brush theirs.

Instructions, while brushing:

1.      Use only a pea-size amount of toothpaste on their toothbrush as larger amounts tend to create excessive foam making it more difficult for your child to brush.

2.      Make sure that your child gets in the habit of spitting out the toothpaste. Swallowing toothpaste on a consistent basis can lead to a condition known as fluorosis, in which spots may appear on your child's teeth. Be careful of the toothpaste you use. Almost all toothpastes contain harsh flavorings that adults barely notice, but that can sting young mouths, this is one of the reasons children do not like to brush.

3.      A safe toothpaste alternative for kids is use a special children’s toothpaste (fluoride free) that is available at most pharmacies and super markets, and can be swallowed safely in the first 3 years until being able to spit out the tooth paste.

Finally, my advice as a mom and dentist your enthusiasm is contagious! If you are enthusiastic about the activity, your children will be enthusiastic. Children are great imitators. They tend to want to do the things that their parents do. If your children see you brushing your teeth and displaying good dental habits, they will follow. In addition, you will pass to them a very precious habit that will keep their diamonds shining all the time.


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