New parents may be surprised by the American Dental Association’s recommendations on infant oral care. Parents are advised to begin brushing their baby’s teeth as soon as the first ones emerge. At Gustafson Morningstar Dentistry in Royal Oak MI we endorse that recommdation, and remind new parents that brand-new teeth are just as vulnerable to tooth decay as older teeth.
Parents are encouraged to use a cloth and a smidgen of toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) to wipe each tooth. As more teeth come through, it’s even more important for them to be brushed after each meal or, at least twice a day.
It is essential to select the proper toothbrush, in order to make brushing time as pleasant as possible. You can buy an infant-sized, soft-bristled brush at most grocery stores. Also, there are circle and triangular-shaped brushes that allow your toddler to walk around with their brush with less chance of injury in case of a fall.
If your toddler doesn’t like the taste of toothpaste, brush with water for a while. The goal is to remove food bits that will create bacteria followed by plaque and then cavities.
When two teeth touch, it’s time to floss. Flossing is important to make sure no food is lodged between the teeth. Proper flossing requires fine motor skills which most kids don’t develop until about the age six or seven. Parents need to assist with flossing until they are sure their child can do it effectively.
Until the child is old enough to properly brush his or her teeth, they should receive adult supervision and guidance. Instilling the proper brushing and flossing practices will reap lifelong benefits. It may be time-consuming, but remember that it’s making a daily habit that will protect their dental health for a lifetime. Also, dental expenses related to poor oral hygiene will be avoided.
Your child’s first dental visit should be within six months of the first tooth appearing and no later than their first birthday. It may seem early, but most parents bring their child to the pediatrician at that age, and teeth are no different. You can count on us to look out for potential problems and guide you about how to help your child keep a healthy smile.
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