While most of us moms are too busy thinking of what healthy food to feed our child or what brain stimulating activity to do or plan for the day, we often forget an important aspect of their health– DENTAL HYGIENE.
Dental hygiene is most commonly taken for granted because newborns and toddlers don’t really get stinky breath or show signs of damaged pearly whites especially during the early stages of life. They have cute little teeth that do not seem to get dirty.
Admittedly, I am one of those mothers who have placed dental hygiene on a backseat during my child’s first few months. I only started paying attention to my daughter’s dental hygiene when she turned one. And now I know I could have done better.
The first few times will always be considered a challenge. Babies are not familiar with tooth brushing or gargling so we really have to teach them properly and it’s up to us parents to impart a good practice of maintaining dental health.
Here are a few tips I can share from my 2.5 years of experience:
- Start them young
Even at one month old, we can already start cleaning our baby’s mouth and tongue. Some moms use gauze, some use washcloths. I prefer a thin washcloth, damp with clean warm water, roll around your finger, and gently rub onto baby’s mouth and tongue to remove milk residue. Then you can move forward to the finger brush when baby starts eating solids, and then the soft kiddie toothbrush for toddlers. I don’t think there’s a “correct age” for each stage but starting earlier will be more beneficial to both parent and child.
- Make it fun
My daughter loves music and singing! So when I taught her how to brush her teeth, I looked up cute YouTube videos and songs about dental hygiene. It worked like magic! We would sing the songs together or I would sing it to her when we brushed. I would also choose some dental hygiene tools with cute cartoon characters. Tooth brushing should not feel like a chore for kids so they would be encouraged to do it by themselves even when we don’t require them to.
- Make it a habit
Make a conscious effort to include dental hygiene in your daily routine. Maybe implementing it after every meal like us adults may be too tedious but brushing every night before sleeping can be a great habit for the kids. We know that young kids thrive in routine activities so let’s build that great practice.
- Use tools that you think are more suitable for your kids
You would think that buying a toothbrush is easy since it can be found almost anywhere. However, kids may have varying needs when it comes to dental hygiene. Aside from choosing a toothbrush that your kid would love (because of his/her favorite color or favorite cartoon character), choose one that is most appropriate for him/her. For example, choose a toothbrush structure that is suitable for your kid’s age – some have small heads and bigger bristles, some have diagonal ones, etc. Also, choose bristles that they like (soft, medium, hard, etc.)
I particularly love this toothbrush I discovered in Japan last year. It’s called a 360 toothbrush, which is round and the bristles are really 360 degrees. It’s great for kids who are just starting to learn to brush their teeth because every angle can be covered.
When it comes to tooth paste, you may also use the flavors to entice your kids. I prefer organic ones with the least chemical ingredients since my daughter has not yet learned to spit and gargle. Always go for brands and kinds that are safe to swallow. The real toothpaste can wait. She loves Jack N Jill banana flavored tooth paste by the way! (Jack And Jill Kids Toothpaste can be bought in Rustan’s Department store at Phpp450)
- Set a good example
It’s not just about teaching and giving orders. We also have to set the tone. If your kids can sometimes peek in the bathroom when you do your routine, show them that you are brushing your teeth too. Show your kids that dental hygiene is important for you and the family and I’m sure they will emulate your good example.
For now, I think my daughter has a fair dental hygiene but there’s still definitely a lot of room for improvement. We need to make her brush three times a day.
The next major step would be to visit the dentist. We have not done that yet and we will soon! It is quite scary to be honest, but we’ll be sharing with you our experience. Wish us luck!
‘Til then, loving parents! Happy tooth brushing! 🙂
Pro Healthy Smiles,