Starting Your Child’s Oral Health Care Early
Healthy habits can be cultivated by establishing oral care routine early. Start wiping your child’s gums with a wet washcloth to remove germs and leftover breast milk/ formula after feeding.
When the first tooth erupts, usually around 6 months of age, you should start brushing your child’s teeth with a soft toothbrush twice a day. It should be a gentle circular scrubbing motion. This will allow your child to get used to toothbrushes early. Parent/caregiver should be brushing for the child twice daily using a soft bristled and appropriate-sized toothbrush. Do not let your child brush their teeth without supervision as they do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively.
You can start using a pea-size amount of fluoridated toothpaste once your child is able to spit effectively, typically between the ages of 3-5 years old.
Tooth Brushing Positions
Position your child to lay on your lap or on the bed so that the head is back and supported for brushing. Alternatively, if your child is sitting on a high chair or on your lap, you can brush your child’s teeth from behind. Always lift your child’s lips to see along the gum line. Your toothbrush should be angled towards the gum line and brush with a circular motion.
Age 1 Dental Visit
Your child’s first dental visit should occur after the first tooth erupts and no later than the age of 1 year old. The importance of this visit is for the dentist to:
- Examine the teeth and gums
- Evaluate the risk of tooth decay
- Advise on feeding
- Advise on brushing
- Advise on types of toothpaste
Do not put your child to sleep with a bottle. Start to train your child to drink from a cup after the age of 1 year old. Your child should be weaned off the habit of drinking milk from bottle once they are able to hold and drink from a cup, typically from 1-2 years old.
Article contributed by Dr. Sim CJ, updated 28th July 2015