Brushing with Toothpaste
When a few more teeth appear, you can start using toothpaste with your child’s brush. However, for the first two years be sure to choose toothpaste that does not contain fluoride, unless advised to do so by your dentist. This is because too much fluoride can be dangerous for youngsters. At this stage, use only a tiny amount of toothpaste. From the beginning, have your little one practice spitting the toothpaste out after brushing, to prepare her for fluoride toothpaste, which should not be swallowed at any age.
Don’t give your baby any sort of sweetened liquids such as flavored drinks or soda. Even the sugars present in fruit juice, formula, and milk (this goes for breast milk as well) can cause decay, so regular tooth and gum cleaning is vital. Also, make sure your baby never goes to bed with a bottle. Sugary liquids in prolonged contact with her teeth are a guarantee for early childhood decay, also called baby bottle cavities.
Setting a Good Example
As part of the natural learning process, little ones are expert mimics, and you can take advantage of this talent. Brush and floss daily while your child is watching, and they will learn at an early age the importance of good habits. As soon as they show interest, give them a toothbrush of their own and encourage them to “brush” with you. (You’ll find toothbrushes with chunky, short handles easier for them to grip.) Most children don’t have the dexterity necessary to thoroughly clean their own teeth until they’re about six or seven, so you’ll have to do that part of the job for her. Try different tactics to make brushing fun: flavored toothpaste, a toothbrush with a favorite character on it, singing songs about brushing. The primary goal is to instill healthy oral habits at an early age to set your child up for a lifetime of healthy, cavity-free teeth!