How do I care for my baby’s teeth?

Did you brush your teeth properly sweetheart?

As a mum I ask this question of my two kids under 6 A LOT…. at the front desk of Aim Dental, I also hear this said to other children in the waiting area quite often. So, what is brushing properly and what does it entail?

My name is Jessica, I’m a mum of 2 children under 6 and I work part time at the front desk of Aim Dental Woodvale. I was lucky enough that my own mum worked in dental and told me to introduce a toothbrush when they starting teething as it was likely their first teeth were about to cut through or ‘erupt’, which for my two was around 6-8 months. I just let them ‘chew’ on the toothbrush sitting up in the bath and it started from there. 

According to the Australian Dental Association, even if your child only has a few teeth, bacteria can get in and start causing decay, so you should start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts. One great way to get your child used to teeth cleaning is to wipe their gums with a soft cloth twice a day. As soon as the teeth appear, you can switch to using a soft children’s brush, with no toothpaste until 18 months of age, while your child lies on your lap or on a bed.  And yes flossing is necessary; your dental professional can show you the correct technique.

When my babies turned into little independent toddlers with the “I do it myself” mentality, it seemed to be a common problem among friends and patients alike. My solution to this challenging stage was to let them do it themselves and let me “do the hard bits for you”.

There are also a few phone apps available that can help with entertaining and keeping your children brushing for the right amount of time. I have seen an ‘Oral B Disney’ app, ‘Colgate Magik’ app and a ‘Wiggles Toothbrushing’ app and they seemed to be quite good but this really depends on their level of attention span and concentration. 

I asked one of our lovely Oral Health Therapists Britt to give me a few tips for parents about oral hygiene for kids:

  • Brushing needs to be twice a day, once in the morning and once at night.
  • Brush for a full 2 minutes (this will need to be supervised).
  • Parents should assist with brushing, whether it be actually brushing or watching your child brush up to at least the age of 6.
  • Your child should then spit but not rinse with water after, this allows the fluoride toothpaste to sit on the teeth.
  • As your child reaches around 5 years of age, it is preferred to switch them to an electric toothbrush (case by case of course, as the parent you will know when they are ready).

We also get asked when you should bring your child to the dentist and we usually recommend that once they have a few teeth it is a good idea to bring them along with you to your own or older children’s appointment (perhaps bring someone else with you to keep them entertained as they likely won’t want to sit while you have your own appointment). This gives them the opportunity to see the environment and get them comfortable with us, sitting in the chair, opening their mouth and showing us their pearly whites. 

As my youngest recently turned 3, she has started to brush her teeth herself (with me watching) and then lets me ‘get the hard spots’, mind you, this doesn’t go smoothly every day… but the way I see it is if they are cleaned properly MOST of the time then I’m doing a good job. 

If you need any more tips or helpful tricks, please feel free to come in for a check-up with one of our super cool Oral Health Therapists. 

Jessica Bennett