Infants may begin getting teeth as early as 4 months old. It is very important that you begin practicing good oral hygiene for your infant as soon as the first tooth has erupted into the mouth. Wipe the teeth gently with a clean, moist, soft cloth or gauze. Use of any toothpaste at this age is not necessary or recommended. As babies grow and more teeth erupt, use a small brush with a non fluoridated cleaning agent – sometimes referred to as “teaching toothpaste”. It is important not to use fluoridated toothpaste until your child understands not to swallow it. Excessive ingestion of fluoride from toothpaste can cause staining of developing permanent teeth.
Children should use a toothbrush that is size appropriate and have soft, rounded bristles. While you should encourage independence about healthy brushing habits, it is important that you ensure complete removal of food and plaque that can cause decay. As your child develops better hand control, teach them the following brushing method recommended for adults:
For most toddlers, the act of teeth brushing can be challenging. Some suggestions that may help your toddler be more receptive to brushing are:
Flossing should begin as soon as your child has teeth that touch each other. This varies in age because children’s teeth vary. In the early years, it is best if you floss entirely for your child. As they increase in age and independence, help create a habit of flossing. Floss aides with “handles” make holding the floss and cleaning between teeth easier. As with brushing, it is important for you to follow up until they can remove all debris effectively.