Even before your child gets teeth there are several habits that you should work on to help ensure good oral health. Getting in the habit of wiping your baby’s mouth with a wet washcloth after nursing or feeding is a great routine to help establish good oral health. There are also some products that can be slipped on the finger and are made of soft material that work well too.
When it comes to diet, it is best not to put infants/toddlers to bed with a bottle/sippy-cup or allow on demand breastfeeding during the night. These activities can lead to severe dental decay and build bad habits. If you child must go to bed with something to drink, the only thing that is recommended is water. Flavored waters and sugar-free drinks are discouraged because they reinforce bad habits, and can lead to dental decay also.
As your child begins to get teeth, you may use an appropriate sized toothbrush with a fluoride-free toothpaste. Children at the age of two may switch over to a fluoridated toothpaste, but parents must always be in control of the amount of toothpaste being used. Parents should use less than a pea-sized amount (smear) before a child can spit, and may use a pea-sized amount after a child is able to spit out most of the toothpaste.
As children approach the age of two, many parents experience difficulty in brushing their child’s teeth. Children begin reaching cognitive milestones, and want to become more independent. It is good to allow your child to brush their teeth, but a parent must always finish for them. If your child cries or fusses while doing this, it is normal as many children at this age only want to do things by themselves. It is important to build routines with your child and reinforce that you are helping them clean their teeth. With time the routine will be expected and your children will not protest.