It is vital to start cleaning your child’s teeth as soon as they come into the mouth. The first teeth to erupt are usually the front two lower incisors, at 5-10 months old. Even before any teeth erupt, you can help clean bacteria from your infant’s mouth with a damp cloth or gauze, particularly after milk consumption. All 20 primary teeth will usually be erupted by the age of 2 and a half.
How to Brush Your Toddler’s Teeth
It is vital to brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day, in the morning and before bed. Some toddlers are more relaxed during the brushing process, and some are a bit fussier, but consistency is key to getting them used to brushing. It can help to brush after bath time by placing them in a lying down position between your legs with their head in your lap, using one hand to brush, and using the other hand to secure their hands away from their mouth. Try to make sure to access both the back and front teeth while brushing. This process will get more comfortable with time, and as your child gets older. Begin using a toothpaste containing fluoride around the age of 3, and make sure it’s a small amount, around the size of a grain of rice. Introduce flossing into your child’s daily routine around four years old, when the contacts between their molars close together. Any teeth that have open gaps between them don’t require flossing as the toothbrush bristles can easily access the in-between spaces.
Help Your Child Until 8 Years Old
It is recommended to continue helping your child brush and floss their teeth, or at least check the quality of their brushing and flossing, until the age of 8. Permanent molars erupt in the back at the age of 6, and these teeth can be particularly prone to cavities if not brushed properly. By eight years old, your child will likely have the dexterity and understanding to brush and floss their teeth on their own.
What Tools Can You Use to Help?
There are tools and aids available on the market to help your child brush and floss adequately. Examples of aids are:
- Toothbrush timers (can be hourglass or clock timers)
- Toothbrushes with built-in timers such as 2-minute songs or beeps
- Smartphone apps that make brushing fun and rewarding
Make sure to provide your child with a toothbrush they like (such as with movie characters) and a toothbrush flavour they prefer (as long as it includes fluoride) so that they enjoy brushing their teeth.
If you have any questions about helping your child brush and floss their teeth, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.