Oral Hygiene

With my knowledge as an oral hygienist, it was my experience at home that made me realize things are not always as easy as the book says, therefore I'll give you a few guidelines and tips to help keep your baby's teeth healthy.

My general time line and guide for taking care of your child’s teeth are from birth to 7 years of age; allow me to explain in a little more detail.

4-24 Months

  • As soon as the first tooth appears, brush their teeth 2 times a day with a small, soft toothbrush. Silicone toothbrushes are very easy to clean and very gentle on a baby's gums. 
  • Use fluoride free tooth gel or low fluoride toothpaste.
  • Schedule the first dental check-up before his or her first birthday.

2-3 Years

  • Encourage your child to brush on his or her own (parents should still supervise until age 6-7)
  • Brush 2 times a day for 2 minutes
  • Teach your child not to swallow the toothpaste and use a small amount.
  • Schedule regular dental check-ups every 6 months

4-7 Years

  • Brush teeth morning and night for 2 minutes
  • Begin flossing as soon as permanent teeth start to erupt
  • Use a child safe fluoride toothpaste for cavity protection

Tips and advice on how to tackle cleaning the teeth of your toddler with toothbrush tantrums:

  • Make brushing an interesting event by using a colourful toothbrush, a toothbrush with a light or even sound.
  • Use toothpaste that your child likes, try all the different ones until they find one they like.
  • Let someone else brush your child's teeth if every brushing session ends up in a fight. (Dad or older brother)
  • Change the scenery, go and brush outside; brush next to the garden gnome; brush in the kitchen.
  • Role play. Let your child be the dentist and you lie with your head in her lap, she can brush your teeth with your toothbrush. Then you swop around.
  • Create dental awareness by reading picture books about brushing teeth or by making a poster with your child about a healthy mouth.
  • Do not give up. Your child will soon realize cleaning her teeth is not negotiable.
  • Monkey See Monkey Do!  Lead by example and brush your teeth when your little one does.  Let them watch and learn how you brush and use floss.

I hope that these few tips will make "toothbrush time" that little bit easier.

Natasha van Oudtshoorn – Oral Hygienist

This ‘Letter from a Mom’ is used with the consent of Bumbles Cookery Club:  www.bumblescookeryclub.co.za