Dental hygiene is not just for grown-ups. If children don’t develop healthy dental habits when they are young, they probably won’t be inclined to care for their teeth as adults. Even unhealthy baby teeth can cause problems for future permanent teeth. Oral care does not come naturally, but encouraging and modeling it in a child’s early years can lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
Studies are increasingly showing a link between tooth decay and general health problems. Dental decay is the most common disease in children, especially since they tend to consume a lot of sugar and may not have the dexterity (or the motivation!) to brush it all out of their teeth. The Pew Center on the States says that almost 60% of kids experience dental decay.
Promoting the oral health of your child may appear overwhelming, and it’s no wonder when little Johnny keeps dropping his toothbrush in the toilet, and little Jessica brushes for a grand total of 4 seconds after multiple reminders. Despite all that, you’re still going through tubes of Bubble Gum Princess toothpaste at an alarming rate (though the dog’s breath has smelled awfully fresh lately).
That’s why we compiled this guide. We hope to provide not only facts and figures, but also real advice straight from moms just like you who are working with their babies, toddlers, tweens and teens every day to promote their dental health. We’ve divided our guide into sections for each primary age throughout your child’s development. Within each section you will find information, tips and advice to help you guide your child toward a healthy adulthood with a great smile.
Read more on Mom's Guide to Caring for Little Teeth
Newborn – When there is only gum
Long before you felt your baby’s first kick, his teeth were beginning to develop below his gums. The hard enamel had formed around each tooth by the third or fourth month in your womb. During the first few months of his life, you were probably too busy and exhausted to think much about what would soon be happening in his mouth. Nevertheless, there probably came a day when you noticed he was more cranky than usual. Perhaps he drooled excessively or constantly chewed on his hand, your finger or any other object he could find.
In this period the baby silicone finger toothbrush is a safe, hygienic healthy way to clean the baby's first teeth.
The Teething Toddler – Maintaining healthy new teeth and sanity
Ah, toddlerhood! That time of asserting independence and testing limits, of astounding learning and development in leaps and bounds. Whether it’s dressing, eating or playing, your toddler is becoming her own person, and she wants things done her way.
If your child doesn’t yet understand the concept of spitting, chose natural toothpaste which swallows safely, and the game is also a good try. Turn it into a game. Give her a cup or bottle of water and go outside to explain the process. Then set up a target and see who can spit farther! Later, you can take turns aiming for the “target” in the sink – the drain. Once she has mastered spitting water, you can begin to associate this new concept with spitting toothpaste into the sink after brushing. Be sure to explain that spitting is only appropriate in certain situations!
In this period, the brushing tooth game, colorful toothbrushes, and fruit flavor natural toothpaste will be recommended.