By Dana Harris
Should I help brush my child’s teeth?
Tooth brushing should begin soon after tooth eruption, starting with parents wiping the first teeth with a soft washcloth. After several teeth have come in, a soft bristled brush can be used to clean baby’s teeth. The parent or guardian should be involved in dispensing toothpaste and brushing up until age six or seven. At this age, children should be able to brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day, but do still require supervision. While supervising, make sure the child is not swallowing the toothpaste.
By the age of 10 or 11, children should be able to brush their teeth on their own without supervision. However, as a parent/guardian, you should make sure that your child continues their oral hygiene daily.
What if he/she doesn’t like tooth brushing?
• Fun toothbrush and toothpaste: Let your child choose his/her favorite characters toothbrush and toothpaste.
• Make tooth brushing a group activity: Let your child pretend to brush the teeth of a favorite stuffed animal or doll as you brush his/her teeth.
• Sing a tooth brushing song: this will make brushing fun and it will give your child an idea of how long to brush each time.
• Brushing apps, such as Pearl E. White are also available to keep your child entertained and enthusiastic about brushing.
• Tooth brushing chart with prizes: Every time your child brushes his/her teeth according to your expectations (ex: full 2 minutes without complaints), offer a sticker to put on the chart. After the chart is full, offer a small prize for good oral hygiene.
Your Child’s First Dental Visit
What is the recommended time for a child’s first exam?
Ideally, your baby should have a dental exam by 6 months of age and parents should establish a dental home by the child’s first birthday.
How do you prepare your child for their first dental visit?
• Tell your child about their dental visit in advance, so you both have time to prepare for the visit. Just like adults, children do not like surprises.
• Answer your child’s questions about the dentist and the upcoming dental visit positively. Avoid words like “hurt”, “drill”, and “needle” that he may find frightening.
• Try role-playing with your child. Take turns playing “dentist” either on each other or on a favorite stuffed animal or doll. Role-playing can help your child learn about their upcoming dental visit in a fun and relaxing manner.
What if my child is anxious at the dentist?
We want your child to have the safest and best treatment possible while in the dental chair, but this can sometimes be difficult if the child is nervous about receiving dental treatment. Your dentist may recommend an option like those listed below on an individual basis so that your child can have the best possible experience.
• Nitrous Oxide sedation (“laughing gas”)– has a calming effect
• Oral Sedation– a liquid medication taken before the appointment that makes the child sleepy.
– Information Courtesy of the Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University
This article appears in the February 2020 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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