We are probably all used to taking care of our own teeth, brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, but do you know when to start brushing your baby’s first teeth? Do you know how to coax your opinionated toddler to brush their teeth twice a day? When to take your child for their first dental visit?
I always tell my patients that good oral health habits are formed before their children can walk or talk. If you start good habits early, it will likely make it easier to continue reinforcing good oral health habits that they can carry into their independent adult life.
When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?
It is important for parents to know that tooth decay can start as soon as their
child’s first tooth breaks through the gums, and this is when they should start
brushing their children’s teeth. This could happen as early as 4 months or as late as 14 months. For children under the age of 2 we advise brushing with a soft child’s size toothbrush and water. When your child turns 2, you can start using a pea sized amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush. If you are considering using fluoride toothpaste, you should speak with your child’s dentist so they can monitor how much fluoride they are getting via supplements and other sources.
My child won’t let me brush his/her teeth-what can I do?
It is important for parents to know that brushing your child’s teeth is extremely
important in preventing cavities. It will be much easier to get them to brush than it will be to get them to sit through a cavity being filled! We can offer a few strategies that you can try:
- Try making brushing time fun, let them sit somewhere special, and sing them a favorite song as you brush.
- Try brushing your own teeth with your own toothbrush so your child can see that it’s fun! Let your child brush your teeth with your toothbrush. Then tell your child it’s her/his turn and use their toothbrush to brush their teeth.
- Try the ‘I brush then you brush’ technique. Here, you as the parent will brush your child’s teeth, then your child will get a turn to brush their own teeth. Kids at this age tend to like being in control and this gives them that chance.
- Teach your child about brushing their teeth and then take them to a store where they can pick out their own special toothbrush. This will make it exciting for them to brush when they get to use the toothbrush that they picked out.
- Routine is extremely important, brush their teeth, read a book, and then sing a special song (or your own variation). It helps kids feel secure when they have structure and a routine that they can expect every morning and evening.
- There are many books you can purchase or find in the library that can help teach your child about taking care of their teeth. This can get your kids excited about brushing-first read a book about their favorite character getting their teeth brushed and visiting the dentist, and then it’s their turn to brush!
When should I take my child for his first dental visit?
Dr. Magid recommends that you take your child for their first dental visit within 6
months of their first tooth appearing, and most definitely by their first
What should I expect at my child’s first dental visit?
- At his or her first dental exam you can expect your child’s dentist to check for cavities, oral injuries, or other problems.
- The dentist will clean your child’s teeth and explain to you how you should be teaching them to take care of their teeth on a daily basis.
- Talk with you about any oral risk factors or thumb or pacifier sucking habits your child may have.
Dr. David Magid is a Family General and Cosmetic Dentist in Livingston, NJ. He graduated in 2002 from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and completed a residency at Columbia University in 2003. His office is located at 315 E Northfield Road, Livingston, NJ 07039. You can reach the office at (973) 992-8800 or find us on the web at LivingstonSmileDesign.com