We all know that teething is a delicate and difficult time for babies and their parents – anyone who has been through it will remember the irritation and the tears, the sleepless nights, the rusks and the teething toys. It’s important to remember between all the difficulty that as soon as teeth begin to show through, parents should be brushing their kids’ teeth twice a day. This helps your baby to get used to the new process, which will then become a normal habit.
To begin with, rather than a toothbrush, use a clean, soft cloth (a gauze or muslin will work) dabbed in a very small amount of child-friendly toothpaste and wrapped around your finger. As more teeth appear, you can move up to a kid-sized toothbrush (check on the packaging to find out what age range the brush is designed for).
Be careful with fluoride content, as swallowing too much fluoride at a young age can have negative side-effects like teeth damage or even vomiting and diarrhoea. It’s a good idea to choose a non-fruity flavour of toothpaste for your child; this will help them to understand that it is not food.
You might find it easiest to sit your baby on your lap while brushing their teeth, using small circular movements. During teething, the gums will be sensitive, so don’t be too energetic with brushing motions.
A good way to get your child used to the sights and sounds of the dentist is to bring them along whenever you have an appointment, and when the time comes for them to have their own check-up, it won’t be a scary new experience.
Keep sugary snacks and drinks to a minimum, as they are a major cause of tooth decay for babies. Read labels on prepared baby foods and check that they have no added sugar or sweeteners. Lactose, fructose, sucrose and glucose are all forms of sugar to be aware of. Encouraging cheese or vegetables as snacks is a great way to promote a healthy diet and put good eating habits in place as your child grows up.
Taking care of your baby’s teeth is part of the foundation for a healthy lifestyle and good habits later on, so paying careful attention and starting them off on the right foot and setting a good example is important.