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You’re a parent and your young toddler has just got their first tiny front teeth. So, it’s time to start cleaning them after ‘feed’ time. But do you use your finger or a damp cloth? Or head off to the supermarket to buy them a toothbrush?

Toothbrushes are the most effective cleaning tool for infants & toddlers

Most dentists recommend toothbrushes as the most effective cleaning tool for your child’s first teeth. Some oral health experts say that using a soft, moist cloth is a better option. So the choice is up to you and may depend on how your child responds to this daily activity.

However, keep in mind that bristles are the most effective, quickest way to gently scrub off sticky plaque. You should note brand labelling to select the correct type of toothbrush for your child’s age group. The key point to remember when buying a toothbrush for your young child is that it has to have a small brush head with a soft, rounded end, a small easy-grip handle and soft bristles. You don’t want to irritate your young child’s sensitive gums!

When should you start brushing your infant child’s teeth?

Dentists advise parents to start brushing with water as soon as their first teeth appear. That’s because dental plaque can start forming on tiny tooth surfaces as soon as they erupt out of the gums into the oral cavity. And long term plaque can lead to tooth decay and cavities.

Continue to brush your infant’s teeth twice daily until they have enough dexterity to brush, rinse and spit without supervision.

Protect your child’s oral health now for the future

For most children, untreated plaque, tooth decay and cavities are oral conditions that are entirely preventable. However, due to a modern diet with instantly addictive sugary foods, tooth decay and cavities are highly prevalent among children in the 2020s. Inadequate oral care is also an issue. In Australian children aged 3 years and under, 14% didn’t brush, 44% brushed once daily and 42% brushed twice daily (as recommended). That means well over half (58%) of Aussie infants and toddlers are not keeping their teeth clean enough to prevent plaque, decay and cavities.

These negative statistics highlight the need for parents to be actively and consistently involved in their child’s oral care and hygiene from the earliest age. This way, good oral habits are formed and maintained throughout their childhood, teen years and into their adult life – for healthy teeth and a healthier life.