How To Brush
Get someone else to hold bub comfortably so they can see themselves in the mirror. They love to watch anything to do with tooth brushing (I don’t know why it becomes such a menace of a chore when they turn 4!) You’ll need both hands free to help direct the tooth brushing and probably hold their chin gently or open their mouth a bit. Get ready to feel like a tool doing lots of ‘Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhs’ with your mouth open wide and singing goofy brusha-brusha-brusha songs. You’ll need to lift the lips up a bit to allow for brushing the gum line and sides of back teeth. Use gentle, soft, circular motions to clean the teeth. Pretty good instructions hey? Wish they worked here, my kids just kind of chewed on the toothbrush until they were about two, but every child is different!
Always rinse the toothbrush in running water after brushing and give bub a sip of water to drink.
Food and Drink
Low sugar as always is key in dental health and child nutrition in general. Once your baby is old enough to drink some water, keep it that way as long as possible, and avoid juice and other sugary drinks whenever you can. My kids always dig ‘rain in a bottle’ and if they have juice, they like it watered down because that’s how I drink it!
Boob and Bottle
If your baby is breastfeeding or bottle-feeding to sleep, you may be advised to wipe their gums and teeth with a washer after they finish feeding. Um, sure I’ll risk waking my cranky little teething machine with a pleasant post-milk gum wipe”¦said no parent ever!
Don’t be bullied by anyone to stop feeding your baby to sleep, if that’s what they need, that’s what they need. I asked a local dentist for their opinion on the subject of what’s the deal with feeding to sleep and this is what they had to say:
‘It’s one of those situations where the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Breastmilk naturally has a small amount of sugar in it so feeding to sleep would allow that to stay in the mouth, rather than if they had a drink of water after a feed and then fell asleep, but it also contains calcium and other elements that build and protect tooth enamel and after the infant has come off the breast, saliva washes the remaining milk away. As long as good oral health is kept, it’s really nothing to be worried about. With bottle-feeding, it’s a bit different because the sugar levels are much higher and the PH of the mouth is lowered so leaving any formula to pool on the teeth would definitely come into question. Water after a bottle would be best.’
Probably just as hard to give a drink of water to a baby who needs a bottle to go to sleep, so just make sure the bottle isn’t left in bub’s mouth after they’re out to it (so the formula doesn’t pool around the teeth) and keep doing what your baby needs you to do!
Visiting The Dentist
It has been mentioned among child raising groups that all children should have an oral health assessment by the time they are two years of age. Good luck with that! In most cases, it won’t happen until they’re at least a year older and not for lack of caring in the majority of parents. Have you ever tried to force a small child’s mouth open against their will to extricate a piece of food (or something not made of food) that isn’t getting eaten, let alone have a masked stranger peer and prod in their mouth? Most dentists are quite lovely these days though and have special tricks up their sleeves for getting kids comfy with them and their noisy appliances. We found Peppa Pig on TV on the ceiling above the chair was a master stroke in child relaxation, quite genius I thought. Well played, dentist, well played.