From refusing to brush to chipped teeth - there are many issues parents face when trying to keep their children's teeth healthy.
Q. My toddler doesn't understand when I tell her to spit out toothpaste and she swallows it. Should I still use toothpaste to brush my child's teeth?
A. If your child isn't able to spit out after brushing, continue using a smear of low fluoride toothpaste and wipe her mouth with a washer or tissue. It's really important to keep brushing her teeth and there is variability in the age at which children learn to spit out.
Q. Brushing my toddler's teeth is a battle. He won't open his mouth and I can only brush his teeth for a few seconds. Should I just stop and wait till he gets a bit older?
A. It's important to establish good oral hygiene early, so if your toddler resists teeth cleaning or struggles to sit still for more than a few seconds, try these suggestions:
- Tooth brushing for your baby can be done more easily with them lying on a bed or change table. The time taken to brush can be increased slowly until the baby is able to tolerate a two minute brushing as a toddler
- Sing nursery rhymes or play a favourite song while you help your child brush their teeth
- Offer a reward such as a sticker every time your toddler allows you to brush for two minutes
- Consider an age appropriate battery-powered tooth brush, which adds novelty to cleaning their teeth
- Encourage your child to practise teeth cleaning (under your supervision) to instil good oral hygiene habits from an early age. Some toddlers like to be independent so it is a good idea for them to use one toothbrush while you use another one and take turns at brushing
- Make brushing as much fun as you can to avoid any negative association or resistance. Be sure to talk to your dentist if you need more advice