Some people think that just because babies are babies, their teeth do not have to be brushed. WRONG! Even though these are milk teeth, which will begin to come out at around 5 years old, they still need to be properly taken care of. Now more than ever, dentists are seeing floods of children coming in for major dental procedures that could have been taken care of had the parents properly cleaned their teeth. We’re talking about 5 yr olds (or younger) getting root canals, tooth extractions and such. Those are painful for adults, imagine a child?  Read New York Times Article: Pre-Schoolers in surgery for a mouthful of cavities

The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that once a child’s teeth appear, parents clean them twice a day with a soft, child-sized toothbrush. While using damp gauze or a soft wet cloth works well on baby’s sensitive gums, a toothbrush is going to do a better job on a toddler’s teeth, which are now closer together and more likely to have plaque—the soft, sticky, bacteria-containing deposits that accumulate on the teeth and cause decay.

My thing is why wouldn’t you think a child’s teeth need to be cleaned? Do you not wake up every morning and brush yours? Do you not clean your teeth after every meal or before bed? If you do not, you know the plaque will build up. So what is so different about toddlers’ teeth?

I am not going to lie, brushing mini me’s teeth is a struggle. There are times when I just give-in and hand her the toothbrush, but I can’t actually say that she’s “brushing” her teeth at that point. She is sucking and chewing on the toothbrush to get the flavorful paste off. If, while she has the brush in her mouth, I try to grab the handle and actually move it in a brushing motion over her teeth. Homegirl clenches her mouth shut, tries to wiggle away, and cries; she just puts on a major show. Even though she does all of this, it is important her teeth (and gums) get cleaned. I can NOT have a child with rotten teeth.

First, I began using Tooth Tissues (Spiffies makes wipes too). She didn’t mind those too much. I ended up leaving the pack with my mom since they were easier to use. In the evenings, I use Earth’s Best Strawberry & Banana Toothpaste 1.6oz. It’s more like a gel. Mini me enjoys the flavor. It is flouride-free! It came with a gum brush. I use that sometimes since it is easier to use and move around in her mouth, but the girl will chomp down on my finger, which is painful!

I’ve considered taking her to a pediatric dentist; however, the one I did find charges $250 for a cleaning. They do not take my dental insurance. My dentist, who also takes children, doesn’t begin to see kids until 2 years old. In January, when my new insurance kicks in, I will be able to take her to a pediatric dentist.  I wish I were able to afford my pediatric dentist, Dr. Reneida Reyes because she was the BEST!!!

Do not use flouridated toothpaste

The AAPD does not recommend using children’s fluoridated toothpaste (unless recommended by a pediatric dentist) until your child is age two to three and able to spit the paste out. At that point, parents still need to supervise brushing and make sure the child uses no more than a pea-sized amount of paste on the brush. Until a child is ready to begin using paste, plain water is a fine alternative.

As your child gets older, he/she will have a better understanding of tooth decay and cavities—but until then, the job of beginning healthy dental care falls to you. So have fun and get creative with ways to brush. And don’t forget to floss!

Do you brush your toddlers teeth? If not, why?
What do you use to clean your toddlers teeth?  When did you start?
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Kim S.
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Kim is the do-it-all mom (and wife) who not only works full-time and is a freelance makeup artist, but also blogs about her love of family, travel, beauty and skincare. Now that she has a kindergartener, Kim has added Class Parent to her resume. These are all tough jobs, but somehow, she makes them look easy.