Oral hygiene is just as important in infants as it is in older children.
When do you start brushing their teeth, what toothpaste do you use – or not use – and how do you prevent decay? Follow these tips from paedodontist Dr. Terry Teo from Q&M dental.
1. Before your baby’s teeth erupt, always gently wipe away milk residue with a soft wet cloth or dental wipes twice a day, especially at night before bed – even if your baby will be feeding through the night.
2. Establishing consistency while he or she is very young is key. Your little one may struggle and dislike the feeling of having his or her mouth wiped, but perseverance will pay off later.
3. When is a good time to introduce the toothbrush? At around 6 months of age, when your infant’s first lower front tooth should erupt. Introduce the smallest, softest toothbrush you can find. Gently brush his or her first teeth with it, in addition to using a soft cloth to wipe the rest of the gums.
4. Once your child is a year old, refrain from using the soft cloth and only use an ageappropriate, manual toothbrush, as this is shown to be the most effective at removing plaque from a tooth’s surface. At this juncture, your child should be comfortable enough to accept daily brushing if you have consistently practised good oral cleaning habits.
5. But the question is: Toothpaste, or nah? Until the age of 1, water alone is sufficient.
6. From age 1 onwards, you should assess your toddler’s risk of early childhood dental decay with a paediatric dentist. This is necessary because he or she will begin to experience significant dietary changes and the eruption of multiple teeth. If he or she has no significant risk of tooth decay, you can continue brushing with water or introduce an infant toothpaste that is safe to swallow. Should there be a risk of dental decay, fluoride-containing toothpastes may be recommended instead.
7. Supervised brushing twice daily with toothpaste should be the mainstay of oral health in children before the age of 2.