Although they’re young, babies and toddlers greatly
benefit from good dental health care. These simple tips can help you give your
child a strong, healthy smile for years to come.
Set Up a Family Routine
Plaque is the sticky, yellow film that forms
on our teeth, and it needs to be brushed away every day to protect teeth from
decay. Your baby might not have teeth yet, but you can help keep his or her
gums healthy by gently wiping them with a soft cloth after feedings.
Once your baby develops teeth, transition to
a small toothbrush and brush your baby’s teeth twice a day (once in the morning
and once before bed). Gently brush each surface of the tooth in a circular
motion, and avoid toothpaste. As your baby grows into a toddler, continue to
help during teeth brushing time, using songs or chants to put some fun into the
Talk with your dentist about the best time to
bring your child in for his or her first appointment to the dentist, then
schedule regular appointments every six months for routine maintenance!
Discourage Bad Dental Habits
The bad news is that there are dental habits
that are harmful to your child’s teeth. The good news is that these habits can
be broken. One in particular is thumb sucking or the use of pacifiers, which is
typically how babies and toddlers find comfort. It might be easier to break the
pacifier habit since it’s not attached to your child’s body as a thumb is, but
the important point is to encourage your child to stop the habit between the
ages of two and four years of age. Your dentist can also help you and your child
break this bad dental habit.
Another bad habit for your child’s teeth is
swallowing toothpaste. It’s generally not needed for babies or toddlers, partly
because it tastes good so they want to swallow it. Fluoride may be prescribed
by your doctor depending on where you live, which is crucial for your child’s
development of healthy teeth. Swallowing toothpaste, however, can lead to white
or brown spots on your child’s teeth from ingesting too much fluoride. Avoid
toothpaste altogether, or provide a brand made especially for your young child.
Healthy Food = Healthy Teeth
Plaque is the result of foods high in sugar
and carbohydrates, and cutting down on these types of foods can help control
plaque. When the sugars mix with naturally-occurring bacteria in your mouth,
plaque is formed that eventually causes tooth decay. Help control plaque by
providing your young child with a variety of fruits and vegetables – crunchy,
all-natural foods and those high in Vitamin C help remove plaque naturally. Add
in whole grains and dairy products for a balanced diet and healthy teeth!
Another essential way to control plaque is to
take your child to dentist appointments every six months. The routine exam and
teeth cleaning will help keep your little one’s smile healthy and bright!