It is not unusual for kids to be anxious or even afraid to brush their teeth or see a dentist. In many cases because oral hygiene and dentist visits are not introduced until a child is old enough to be afraid. For this reason, it is often encouraged to bring your child to the dentist at around the time they turn one year old, or when their baby teeth first start growing in.
At your child’s first dentist appointment, the dental hygienist will simply show you how to properly care for your child’s new teeth, so this appointment should go relatively smoothly. If you don’t want to wait to get started on taking care of your toddler’s teeth, there are a number of different things you can do to get your kids interested in oral hygiene from the start.
It’s never too early to start brushing, and while I don’t recommend that you get a toothbrush with toothpaste for your four month old, they do make training toothbrushes you can start using that early. You don’t even have to use toothpaste at such a young age, and the bristles are designed to be the same material that your baby will love to gnaw on as more and more teeth pop through.
If you start to use this training toothbrush during part of your morning and nightime routines, maybe while you are changing their diaper or during bathtime, they will become more and more comfortable with learning how to brush as they get older.
Toddlers can be a challenge if they haven’t regularly used a training toothbrush, as they may not have any understanding of why you are trying to scrub their little teeth. If you are just starting out taking care of your toddler’s teeth, you can start by making sure they see you brushing your teeth every morning and night. This will likely lead to them having a better idea of what a toothbrush is, because they see mommy or daddy use one every morning and night.
Then, you can bring your toddler to the store and let them pick out their own toothbrush. Making decisions on their own can help them feel more comfortable and even excited to use their toothbrush. Make sure you pick a training toothpaste to start. These won’t contain fluoride and are therefore safe for the toddler to swallow in very small amounts.
When it’s time to actually brush your toddler’s teeth, I recommend having them hold the toothbrush on their own and maybe brush your own teeth with them at first. They may not be fantastic brushers right away, but the goal is to make sure brushing their teeth doesn’t become a dreaded experience for them. After some time, you can start to help them brush.
One helpful trick to make sure their mouths are thoroughly cleaned is to start counting as you go from tooth to tooth, or sing a song. Not only are you teaching them songs and numbers, but they will also begin to understand how long you’ll be helping them scrub their teeth before handing the brush back.