Guest Author - Rebecca Spooner
If your children are anything like mine, trying to brush their teeth is a daily battle. The times that I am consistent, they eventually get used to it and accept it as routine. However if we miss a day here or there, brushing becomes a screaming battle that is almost not worth the trouble.
Tip number 1: Start Young!
The earlier you start brushing your baby's teeth, the more they will be accustomed to having your hands in their mouth. Instead of a battle, it will be a relaxing, fun experience for both of you. Many experts recommend starting by rubbing your baby's gums with a cloth while they are in the bath. This serves a number of purposes, first of all, removing any bacteria in the mouth. Secondly, it helps toughen up their gums which aids the teething process. And thirdly, it get's them used to having something in their mouth. Be consistent, brush every morning and night and it won't take them long to get the idea that this is yet another routine in their daily lives.
Tip number 2: Get them Involved!
You can start teaching your kids to brush their teeth pretty much as soon as they show interest, usually around 1 1/2-2 years of age. I usually let my 2 and 3 year old brush their teeth by themselves in the morning. It occupies them for a couple minutes while I am getting ready and I encourage them to brush, not just suck off the water and foam. At night, I always brush first to make sure that they are getting a really good clean at least once a day, I then pass the toothbrush over to them and coach them to copy me. Another tip is to lay on the floor (this works best with an older toddler) and let them brush your teeth. They will think it is a great game and it will help them learn to move the toothbrush around.
Tip number 3: Be consistent!
It is always recommended to brush teeth twice a day. This usually works best morning and night. Try not to miss days even if you don't feel like it, although it may not seem important, you are building hygiene habits for the rest of your child's life.
A couple side notes, most of the time your child will not possess the co-ordination to brush completely on their own without help until about age 6 or 7. So until then, make sure that at least once a day you are stepping in and making sure those pearly whites get the proper attention! It is recommended to take your child to the dentist by age 1. Even if they show no signs of problems, it gets them used to the dentist and will help ensure that you are doing everything you should be. It is also a measure used to prevent tooth decay in the early stages. The longer you wait, the more common it is for fear of doctors/dentists to set in, and getting your child to sit nicely can be nearly impossible.
Overall, caring for your child's teeth is an important part of their hygiene and personal care. Help teach them the proper techniques and you will be building lasting good habits for their future, plus potentially saving yourself money on dentist bills :)