Monday, October 30, 2006

Brushing Teeth for Babies and Toddlers

Babies and toddlers drink lots of milk during their first few years. Even without solid or "adult" food, milk serves as one of the primary food sources for them. The frequency and amount to give them varies between parents. Our method is "on demand" - when Gab asks for it.

Since most baby milk contains lactose, or milk sugar, these sugars may have an effect on babies' gums and teeth. Doctors have suggested good dental health in young children begin are the early age when they are just babies, before they even have teeth. The basic foundation of the gums must be in good shape for the teeth to grow. Thus, it is a very beneficial practice to allow babies and toddlers to brush their teeth.

In short, the benefits of early teeth/gum brushing for babies and toddlers:
  • Puts in place a life-long habit and importance of brushing teeth
  • Exercises the gums and promotes proper teeth development
  • Removes sugars and food solids which cause teeth decay
  • Encourages self-confidence and bonding by learning to brush own teeth
For babies who have yet to show any teeth, you can use either a wet soft cloth or fingertip brush to wipe and massage their gums.

Toddlers love to learn to perform physical tasks themselves, brushing teeth is one of the most suitable things they can learn to do. Make it a habit for them to brush when they wake up and before they sleep, especially after their night bottle. Give them a designated stool to sit on while they brush. Of course, it is best that you lead by example and show them how it is done by brushing together.

Please purchase proper toddler toothbrushes with small and soft bristles. Our boy loves to hold his own brush and imitate our brushing movements. Although toothpaste is generally unnecessary, you can use toothpaste specially for children below two years. These do not contain fluoride, which can cause fluorosis (more info) if too much is swallowed. Even if your toddler has not yet learnt how to spit, it is a good idea to start teaching them from young instead of always swallowing.

We use this brand of toothpaste, FirstTEETH, which is does not foam, has a pleasant taste and is safe to swallow. The downside with such toothpaste is that it is several times more expensive than regular brands.

Good dental health is very similar to overall development and health. The first few years are very crucial and possibly determine one's health for the rest of his or her life.

BabyCenter "How to care for your baby's gums and emerging teeth"

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