How do I get my child to like getting their teeth brushed?
– Start early. Even before the first tooth comes in. After nursing your child, use a damp cloth or rub your fingers in their mouth. They will learn to enjoy having a toothbrush when their first teeth come in because it has already become a habit. Although, I’ve learned from my 2-year-old just because you start early doesn’t mean they like it and are compliant all of the time. Yes, you will have moments of frustration but keeping positive and continual positive reinforcement helps.
-Elmo! Our little girl loves Elmo. There is a great Sesame Street video on YouTube “Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me.” We would let her watch it ONLY while she was getting her teeth brushed. If she would squirm or run away we would pause the video until teeth brushing resumed. This was something she really looked forward to while brushing her teeth.
– Play checkup. Role playing is a great way to help them learn their anatomy and to get a better look at their teeth. Check their knees, belly, elbows and teeth. Then let them check you.
– Get them their own toothbrush (or 2). My wife lets my daughter brush mommy’s teeth after she gets her own teeth brushed. Other times she lets my daughter brush her own teeth with one toothbrush while my wife brushes her teeth with another toothbrush. If you need a child’s toothbrush stop by the office.
– Talk to other parents to find out what their doing. New and creative ideas keep your kids interested.
These suggestions won’t work with all kids. And may work once and never again. As a parent I’ve learned to be inventive.
What are the major culprits that lead to tooth decay?
Obvious food culprits are sugary foods and juices, but sugar is only one aspect of tooth decay. How long food sits on teeth is another big factor. The enamel (protective layer on the teeth) on baby teeth is much thinner than adult enamel allowing cavities to occur more quickly. Some sticky foods we think are healthy for the body that are actually quite detrimental to teeth are fruit snacks, gummy bear vitamins, and dried fruit. These foods get stuck on the teeth and can take hours to dissolve providing a perfect environment for cavities to grow. A very easy thing for kids to learn (and adults!!) is to drink water and swish with water after eating. This helps wash away some of the sugars and bits of food left on teeth and stabilizes the pH in your mouth.
When can I expect my baby’s teeth to come in?
Generally the first baby tooth will come into the mouth at 6 months. The first teeth to come in will be the lower front teeth, followed by the upper front teeth. By 2 most kids will have all their baby teeth. However, this is a very general rule. Some children are born with teeth and some won’t get their first teeth until their first birthday. Knowing teeth schedules can help you identify when teething may be an issue.
When should I start taking my child to the dentist?
As soon as they get their first teeth, or even before, I recommend bringing your kids with you to your cleaning appointment. It helps them know what to expect and know that they will be O.K. If you have dental insurance most allow two free dental cleanings a year at no cost to you. At my office I see adults and kids so when they get a little older they can be getting their teeth clean while you are getting your teeth checked! I recommend that you should try and book children appointments in the morning as this time seems to work best for them. If you have any questions feel free to give my office a call and stop by for a free exam and consultation.
Image Credit: Trace Baxter