First step for oral health

First step 4 oral health is plaque removal. This should begin early, as soon as the teeth erupt. "Wiping" the edentulous alveolar ridges with a washcloth or wet gauze works for infant teeth. An advantage of wiping the alveolar ridge is to develop a habit of oral hygiene.

Plaque Removal

Plaque (biofilm) is a sticky film of bacteria, food debris and salivary components that adhere to the tooth. General components of plaque are calcium and phosphorus. The cariogenic bacteria produces polysaccharides that improve adherence of the plaque to the tooth enamel. Although plaque can initially protect enamel because of its mineral content, if left undisturbed, it will increase in size and in the number of bacteria.


Plaque removal is a fine motor activity that infants, toddlers and even preschoolers cannot be expected to perform initially. Therefore, parents are responsible for cleaning the teeth until the child enters first grade. With proper positioning and a toothbrush that is comfortable for the caregiver to use, removing plaque can be fun and quickly accomplished.

Initial brushing of teeth can be accomplished in the bath, on the changing table or in a setting where two adults sitting knee to knee create a cradle for the infant to lie in. In this supine position there is stability and good access to the oral cavity .With gentle pressure from fingers, the jaws can be spread apart and the brush inserted for cleaning. Minimal, if any, fluoride containing toothpaste should be used and a system developed to try and clean all surfaces of the teeth.

The best way to teach a child proper oral hygiene is to lead by good example.


Toddler Tooth Tips

  • Take your child to the dentist six months after the eruption of the first tooth.
  • Use a warm washcloth or a moistened cotton swab to clean your child's teeth after every meal. After this, graduate to a small, soft toothbrush. You don't need to add toothpaste into the regimen until your child is 2 years old; use only a pea- sized amount on the bristles.
  • Start from the back to clean the molars, which are most susceptible to infection and then work forward to the front teeth by pulling back the lips. You can either face the child or have him or her sit on your lap.


Additional Oral Health Tips

  • Bedtime is the most important time to brush.
  • Schedule dental appointments early in the day, but avoid naptime. Make the experience positive for the child and try not to instill your own fears into the child.
  • Change your child's toothbrush every two months and after the child has been sick.
  • If your child is sick, toothpaste should be placed on the brush via a cotton swab or a clean finger to avoid contaminating the toothpaste tube.
  • Many children like to chew on the bristles. Chewing on the bristles bends them, making it difficult for the toothbrush to clean away plaque.
  • Pacifiers can be used until the child is 1 year old. Most pacifiers lie in a position that will not cause any harm to a child's mouth. Prolonged usage, however, can cause increased ear infections from sucking or an open bite.
  • If your child falls and cuts his or her lip, use something cold, such as a Popsicle. This will reduce swelling. If the swelling is severe or the bleeding continues, see your dentist right away.
  • If necessary, only let your child go to sleep with a bottle filled with water. Formula, milk or juice can cause baby bottle tooth decay.
  • Avoid chewable vitamins that list sugar as the first ingredient.


Toddler Do's and Don'ts:

  • Take your child to the dentist within six months of the eruption of the first baby tooth, definitely by age 1.
  • Follow your dentist's advice regarding nutrition, hygiene routine, fluoride and dental- visit schedule.
  • Teach your child how to brush around age 3, and brush your teeth with your children to model good technique and spot problems.
  • Think baby teeth don't matter "because they'll just fall out anyway."
  • Give your children the impression that visiting the dentist is unpleasant


Toddlers Toothbrushes

Toddler toothbrushes are available that prevent the build-up of plaque and bacteria. This can help establish good oral health habits at an early age.

A dental hygienist designed and introduced the first toddler toothbrush in 1993. It resembles an oblong-shaped teething toy, with one wide end for easy gripping and a narrow end with a small head of bristles. The shape prevents it from being over inserted in the mouth or swallowed, and some models have bumps around the gripping end on which infants can teeth.

It's never too early for parents to encourage their youngsters to start using toddler toothbrushes. Parents need to be good role models. They need to take good care of their own teeth and make dental care part of the daily routine for the whole family. Adults should supervise children while brushing. Adults also should help children have fun with oral care by singing songs to keep them brushing longer or making brushing a game by naming the individual teeth being cleaned.