Oral hygiene for babies _ toddlers

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					                                                                                                  Let’s talk
Oral hygiene
for babies &
toddlers                                                                                             teeth

Babies and toddlers are just as much at risk of dental decay
as an older child or adult. Caring for your baby’s teeth needs
to begin at birth. With good oral hygiene habits early, as your
child grows and develops, they will be well equipped to have
healthy teeth for life.

Tips for caring for your baby’s first teeth
How to brush your baby’s teeth                                       How to teach your child to brush their teeth
Even before your baby’s teeth appear it is recommended that          From around the age of four to five children should begin to
you gently wipe their gums with a moistened soft cloth once a        learn how to brush their own teeth. Children do not have the
day. During bath-time is a good opportunity.                         manual skills to effectively clean their own teeth until around
                                                                     eight years of age. Until then, tooth brushing should be a
Once the baby or primary teeth start to appear, it is                combined effort by parents and children.
recommended that parents use a baby’s toothbrush with a small
head and soft, rounded bristles. Up to the age of 18 months,         Choose a position where you can easily see your child’s mouth -
teeth should be brushed with plain water, once a day after the       for example, sit your child on your lap or stand behind your child
last feed in the evening.                                            with their head tilted back slightly.

There are special low-fluoride toothpastes that have been            Move the toothbrush gently in small circles to clean the front
developed for young children and these can be introduced             surfaces of your child’s teeth. To reach inner surfaces, tilt the
from around the age of 18 months, however always read the            toothbrush. Avoid side-to-side scrubbing, which can damage
directions on toothpaste for age suitability. Use only a smear of    teeth and gums. Brush the biting and grinding surfaces of back
toothpaste and teach your child to spit out the toothpaste after     teeth with a firm back and forth motion. Clean every surface of
brushing.                                                            every tooth. Brush gently around the gum line of each tooth. In
                                                                     total you should aim to brush for about two minutes, although it
Store all toothpastes out of your child’s reach. Some small          will take time for your child to allow you to clean for that length
children love the taste of toothpaste and will eat it if given the   of time.

                                                               For more information visit: www.babyteeth.com.au
Replace toothbrushes every three months or when bristles                 * Encourage your child to practise teeth cleaning (under your
appear frayed. Frayed bristles are not effective at removing               supervision) to instill good oral hygiene habits from an early
plaque and may scratch your child’s gums. It is a good idea                age. Use a combination of “show and tell” methods. For
for your child to use one toothbrush while you retain another              example, you could brush your teeth as your child imitates
one with non-frayed bristles to massage the gums without                   you; then next time, tell your child how to brush while you
scratching.                                                                watch

                                                                         Make flossing and brushing as much fun as you can to avoid
   Did you know?                                                         any negative association or resistance. Talk to your dentist if you
   Plaque-disclosing tablets or drops (available from your               need more advice.
   dentist or pharmacist) contain food dye that turns plaque
   pink or red. These can help you and your child to see if              Importance of setting a good example
   the brushing technique you are using removes plaque                   Children tend to imitate their parents’ behaviours. If oral
   from every tooth surface.                                             hygiene and dental care are important to you, they will be
                                                                         important to your child. Talk to your child about the importance
Flossing                                                                 of healthy teeth. A child who understands that teeth have to
                                                                         last a lifetime is more likely to take care of them. Visit your
When your child is about two and a half years old, flossing can          dentist regularly to maintain your own oral health, which will in
be done a minimum of twice weekly in areas where the teeth               turn benefit your child.
are touching. Flossing helps remove decay causing bacteria
from between their teeth and keeps their gums healthy. Slide
the floss between the teeth and gently work it up and down,                 Did you know?
against the surfaces of each tooth. Do not snap the floss down              Sharing spoons or tasting your baby’s food with the same
between the teeth as the floss may damage the gums. After                   spoon can transfer decay causing bacteria to your child.
flossing, have your child rinse with water, then brush (or if you           Keep a set of spoons for your baby’s use only. Wash a
prefer, brush then floss) your child’s teeth.                               dropped dummy under running tap water - don’t clean
                                                                            it in your mouth as doing so may transfer decay causing
If you find flossing your child’s teeth difficult, ask your dentist to      bacteria. Maintain your own oral health to decrease the
show you how to do it. Floss holders can be purchased, which                likelihood of transferring decay causing bacteria.
make flossing easier for some children.

Toddler taming
If your toddler resists brushing or cannot sit still for two
minutes, then try these suggestions:

* Consider a battery-powered brush, which adds novelty to
  cleaning their teeth

* Sing nursery rhymes or play a favourite song while you help
  your child brush their teeth

* Offer a reward every time your toddler allows you to brush for
  two minutes

                                                                 For more information visit: www.babyteeth.com.au

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