DR. RUDI AS-SANIE, D.D.S.
Brushing Your Little One’s Teeth
We all know you are supposed to start brushing your child’s teeth upon first tooth eruption. But how on earth do you brush their teeth and get them to open and cooperate? Especially once they get all 20 teeth in and you have to get wayyyy in the back??? We know, it’s a challenge. It can be stressful and frustrating. The last thing you want is to say forget it, I can’t do it, and then they have 10 cavities at their first check-up visit. I know, I know, 10 sounds extreme but we have seen it and it’s not uncommon when parents give up on brushing their child’s teeth. In this article, our team at Dental Reflections Dublin discusses a few tips and tricks to brushing your little one’s teeth.
Step one: use fluoride toothpaste. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends a rice size amount of fluoride toothpaste upon first tooth eruption. Yes, we know your 6-month-old can’t swish and spit out the toothpaste, which is why a rice size smeared into the toothbrush is recommended. Tom’s natural strawberry toothpaste with fluoride is a great option. Even if a child swallows a meniscal amount of fluoride, it will not harm them and is very safe.
Having trouble controlling your child’s hands, arms and legs? One of our favorite tips is to have the child’s toothbrush ready on the counter with toothpaste. After bath time, grab them out of the bath and wrap/swaddle them up in a towel while their arms are down. Sit down on the toilet seat lid and place the child on their back across your lap and grab the toothbrush. Tilt their head down a bit and boom – you have control and can get the toothbrush in the mouth to brush. It is a bonus if they are mad and scream and cries so that they open big and you can see what you are doing. Sing a fun song while you are brushing and tell them how good of a job they are doing even if they are screaming. After every night of the same routine, they will start to listen to the song and learn it, knowing you will brush their teeth whether they like it or not. It’s just like anything else they have to do that’s mandatory – it’s not an option. It’s truly all about what you make it. It gets really fun when the child hears your song every night and starts to sing it when they learn to talk. Would you rather take a minute to brush your child’s teeth while they are mad or spend hours with your child at the dentist getting their cavities filled?
Stand, Chin up and Head Back
Once a child is old enough to listen and follow directions, have them stand in front of you on a stool in the bathroom in front of the mirror. Have them tilt their chin up high and rest their head back on your chest. Cup their chin with one hand while brushing with the other while the child opens wide. This gives full sight of brushing all surfaces of the teeth including outsides by the cheeks, the grooves where they chew and the insides down by the tongue and near the roof of the mouth. This position also allows you to see to floss a child’s teeth which is important once the floss clicks in and the teeth start to touch. Once most children reach toddler age, they want to take a turn too. Great! Let them practice and take a turn but be sure to follow up after even if it looks like they are doing a good job. It’s a good idea to pull the cheeks up/down to see the toothbrush brushing the gumlines where the plaque tends to settle. It is important to help a child brush until they can tie their own shoes. This is when they have better dexterity and can be trusted with good technique. Most importantly, don’t forget the song you started singing when your toddler was a little baby.