Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. A toothbrush is usually best to remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay (cavities). Any soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed specifically for infants, should be used at least once a day at bedtime.
Think of teeth as having three sides: the outer (cheek and lip side), the inner (tongue and palate side) and the biting surface. Brush with gentle circles across the gums and tooth on the outer and inner surfaces and then use a back and forth motion on the biting surface.
Typically when the spaces between your child’s teeth have closed. When this happens, the bristles of a brush can’t reach between the teeth. Any contact between teeth is vulnerable to decay. Initially, many parents find floss picks easier than traditional flossing.
Typically, a toddlers gums will bleed if they are just emerging or if there has been plaque present along the gum line for a while. This bacterial plaque has irritated the gums causing gingivitis. In this case, you cannot harm your child by brushing more thoroughly. Usually, with proper oral hygiene, the bleeding upon brushing will stop in a few days.
Children don’t usually have the manual dexterity to brush their teeth until around the time they can tie their own shoelaces, which is usually around 6 years old.
In order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than his/her first birthday.
Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.