As soon as your baby’s teeth appear, they need to be looked after. Because good dental habits start early, Toddlebox health and nutrition expert Annemarie Bennett shows how to keep your toddler’s teeth clean!
IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO PREVENT TOOTH DECAY
Aim to start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as they appear. With a toddler, brush their teeth in the morning and – especially – at night before sleep.
Make brushing their teeth part of the evening routine.
Do this when both of you are relaxed, for example after their bath or after the last cup of milk before bed. (For tips on how to get a good routine going, read Winning the Bedtime Battles.) Once teeth are brushed, only offer water to your toddler until the next morning.
MAKE BRUSHING FUN!
They are ways to make the routine enjoyable. You can safely brush your toddler’s teeth face-to-face, standing, or sitting behind them. If it’s more comfortable, brush your toddler’s teeth while they are sitting upright on your knee, in a high chair or on a changing mat.
SEVEN TIPS FOR SAFE BRUSHING!
- Hold their lip away from their teeth with one hand.
- With the other hand, brush teeth using small circular motions.
- Always assist with brushing back teeth.
- Brush for the length of a favourite song: about two-to-three minutes
- Teach them to avoid swallowing toothpaste.
- Encourage them to spit, but not rinse, toothpaste out of their mouth.
- Never allow a them to run with a toothbrush in their mouth. They might hurt themselves if they fall.
Does your toddler want to brush their own teeth? Even if they do, it’s still important that you supervise brushing and help to brush any areas they might have missed. Like tying shoe laces, tooth-brushing is a skill that has to be learnt, and they will need help until about age seven.
TOOTHBRUSHES & TOOTHPASTE
Your toddler’s toothbrush should be small, with soft bristles. Replace it every three months. You will need to change toothpaste as they grow older.
- From baby to age two: do not use toothpaste, use only water and a brush.
- Between ages two and three: use a smear of a children’s toothpaste (it has less fluoride).
- Three and over: use a pea-sized amount of standard fluoride toothpaste.