Start AS SOON AS POSSIBLE ! As soon as you see a little white spot coming through the gum, it's time to start!
EVERY DAY ... Twice a day. Not only is it important to keep those teeth (or just that one tooth!) clean, but it's even more important to build the good habits and a healthy routine for life.
- You could use one of those SOFT CLOTHS such as the My Dentist Choice Tooth Tissues. It's especially convenient before baby stands up. You can also take the opportunity to massage baby's most-likely-sore red inflamed gum.
- Or you could get one of those RUBBER BRUSHES. I personally really liked that banana one from Spry, and I guarantee baby will like it too. It's so chewy it serves as a teether too! It also has a thick handle so baby can hold it and play with it: again, anything for them to enjoy this time of the day is a good thing. It isn't a "game" and a time to play, but we certainly don't want to create any trauma, fear or reluctance around the whole brushing teeth thing. So a little play is more than welcome, if not recommended ;-)
And remember! Move from the top of the gum to the tip of the tooth! Not a back and forth motion like our parents used to teach us! (They didn't know any better though... So I'll give my parents a break!)
HELP! BABY/TODDLER IS FIGHTING IT!
My Daughter is very independent. She would tell me with her eyes that I'd better let her brush her own tooth long before she could say "me do it" or "all by myself". And I realized there is nothing to gain in fighting it, or you'll end-up with a (barely)-clean-teeth screaming baby and another fight staring at you right around the corner of tomorrow... and the night after... and the night after...
TIPS (that work for her):
- Give choices! It's all about her feeling "in charge". I keep 2 toothbrushes in the toothbrush holder. Giving her that "choice" of which toothbrush to use makes her feel that she has a say, and if "she" decides to brush her teeth, then I can't really say no, can I? "Aright, so which toothbrush would you like to use tonight? The pink or the purple one? The doggy or the owl one? The Moana or the Trolls one?" You see my point...
- Let her practice! Our routine is once Mama is done brushing your teeth, it's "your turn" and she can't wait to scream "Myyyyyy tuuuuuuurn". So here we go: we re-apply (a small amount of) toothpaste, we put the brush under water and... I watch her suck on it... And I give a you're-doing-great-Honey smile. Then she rinses the brush. Once in a while she pretends to spit (I'm torn here: is it cute or gross?). Alright, it DOES take an extra couple of minutes and is completely useless on a cleanliness level. But hey, if that means there is no fight and no crying and baby's teeth are clean, it's a complete no-brainer and win-win to me!
- Count: I have found multiple advantages to counting out-loud while brushing baby's teeth:
Say "HAAAAAAAA" *baby opens mouth and says haaa*, *mum starts brushing*
- Bottom right top of of teeth: 1, 2, 3... 10.
- Bottom middle top of teeth: 1, 2, 3... 10.
- Bottom left top of teeth: 1, 2, 3... 10.
- Top right top of tooth: 1, 2, 3... 10.
- Top middle top of tooth: 1, 2, 3... 10.
- Top left top of tooth: 1, 2, 3... 10.
"CHEEEEEEESE" *mum chatters teeth a few times and shows a big teethy smile* - *baby imitates* and then I go again: I count up to 10 on each 6 parts (top and bottom of each left, right and middle) of the mouth.
Of course it's just to give her some structure. So as long as I count she is ok with it.
- Brush your teeth in front of her!
Because... Get that "Monkey see Monkey do" going and because we want to lead by example, don't we, us, wonderful perfect parents!
I have found my daughter likes this natural training one from Hello. We want to stay away from the big brands like Oral B, Crest... Too many bad ingredients. There are so many better alternatives, especially knowing that much of the product applied on the brush is gonna end-up sucked and swallowed by my child. So if I can make a better choice for 3 bucks, I'm in.
SUGAR... Big NO-NO !!!
I try not to be like that "anti-candy" kind of mum, because c'mon, they are kids after all and candies are delish'. But I really am trying to be good here: we know how bad sugar is (and not just for teeth!). So yes, giving my child a lollipop might save me 10 minutes of tantrum or grant me with the -oh so beautiful- gift of 10 minutes of silence... But I'll loose much more when I have to deal with a crying child from tooth decay pain and hundreds of dollars in teeth work. No thanks.
My trick? Those super delicious Xylitol candies from Spry (again). They are SUGAR-FREE AND they fight cavities. Seriously, how can you get any better than that? My daughter loves them (I can't lie, I eat as many as she does if not more).
Call your dentist and ask if they'd be ok seeing baby at around 2-years old, for a "fun" visit? Many will have you come and spend a little time looking around with your toddler, hopefully able to touch a few things, sitting in the chair... There are also some great little videos out there to get baby ready and take the edge off the fear/apprehension- such as this one from Peppa Pig or this one with the timeless Elmo.
How did YOU get baby to brush her/his teeth?