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You might think that removing plaque happens automatically with brushing their teeth. But not all parents clean their child’s teeth and gums in equal measure. Some opt for a quick light brush and miss the hidden plaque behind teeth. Other more scrupulous parents ensure that 100% of tooth and gum surfaces are thoroughly cleaned with the right cleaning tools – and inspected for missed plaque with a dental mirror! Not surprisingly, it’s the latter group that that has the right attitude towards brushing their child’s teeth – it’s all about removing bacterial plaque every time, wherever it may be in the mouth.

Oral cleaning tools for infant teeth and gums 3-12 months old

Starting oral care for your infant can begin well before their first teeth appear. When your child turns 3 months old, you can gently wipe their gum surfaces with a clean, moist pad, finger gauze or cotton-gauze baby oral cleaner swabs – in the mornings and evenings. Gum care, especially along the gum line where primary teeth are emerging, keeps gums clean and healthy. Check other oral surfaces behind the lips, between the inner cheeks and gums. You’d be surprised by what you can find. Infant tongues need cleaning too with a baby tongue cleaner. Give them a quick sip of some water to wash away dislodged plaque and food residue still remaining in the mouth after you’ve completed cleaning. Drinking lots of water during the day keeps their mouths clean too. When the first teeth pop up, start using a soft, infant toothbrush or silicone finger toothbrush with water to clean them. You can purchase a wide range of age-specific infant teeth & gum cleaning products from your supermarket or chemist. If your child resists a toothbrush at first, make a slower transition and continue using the moist pad or gauze technique to wipe clean 100% of the surfaces of each individual tooth. Don’t miss their gum line and make it fun with song and games. Your child will look forward to brushing their daily oral care and hygiene routine.

Oral cleaning tools for toddlers teeth and gums 1-3 years old

Toddlers need to have their teeth cleaned twice daily – morning and night – just like everyone else. And they will need your help and supervision while they’re doing it. They’ll be using a toothbrush with water until they reach 18 months after which they brush with a small dab of low-fluoride toothpaste. Focus on cleaning each tooth with 360 degree coverage of tooth surfaces. Young toddlers probably won’t spit or rinse when told, so gently wipe away excess toothpaste residue, but leave a thin smear on teeth for its fluoride benefits. By about the age of 2, your toddler should be able to hold the brush while you their hand and guide it in all the right brushing angles and motions. Stand in front of the bathroom mirror so you can both see into their mouth. You can try cupping their chin for better stability. In effect, you are being a puppeteer and controlling their movements while they get to hold the toothbrush. Angle bristles appropriately to remove plaque from the front, back and between the teeth. To remove plaque build-up from the gum line, angle bristles towards this area and brush in an expanding circular motion to incrementally “shave” off plaque. Make sure you ease the toothbrush off a little when it comes in contact with gum tissue, so as not to cause irritation. Let them hold the tongue cleaner while you guide their hand movements and start teaching them to spit. New dental technology can benefit toddlers once they’ve got the hang of manual brushing. Infant electric toothbrushes with timers are very effective cleaning tools but a toddler has to unlearn their manual brushing technique to use them. Electric toothbrush are held in a stationary position and moved across each tooth – tooth by tooth. Always store their toothbrush away from other brushes and allow to air dry. Cross bacterial contamination with older family member’s toothbrushes can introduce new bacterial species into your child’s oral cavity. Replace brush or brush heads every 3-4 months.