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How to Clean Your Baby's Teeth

Hi, Dr. Burhenne here of AsktheDentist.com

I actually have a new name, Opa, thanks to my little granddaughter, Quinn.

So, today I'm gonna try and explain to you how to brush your child's teeth.

Most parents are like, very, definitely afraid of this. It doesn't go well and it becomes a chore for them.

So, really brushing has to be fun, right?

So, your child has to see you brush. And when you brush you have to smile, you have to crack jokes,

you have to tap dance, maybe do a little twirl. They need to understand that this is fun.

I would not introduce toothpaste. Don't let them see you brushing with toothpaste because they're gonna want it.

Toothpaste will shorten the whole process and makes a mess. They may not like the taste of toothpaste.

They may be swallowing it. That's a concern if there's fluoride.

There are all sorts of other chemicals in toothpaste. So, you don't want to introduced here to your young child.

So anyway, so I'm going to try and brush Quinn's teeth. The other thing is she's got to have her own toothbrush.

It's got to be colorful. It has to be very small. This one in fact, I think is a little too large for Quinn

but it's something that she's getting used to. And then you need to, again, it's a form of brainwashing.

Three times a day, you need to go out in front of your grandchild or your child,

and you need to brush like this.

Quinn, what do you think of this, huh?

It has to be a very fun process. Anyway, that first moment of brushing has to be a good experience.

The first visit to the dentist has to be a good experience.

And to me that is more important than actually getting in there and brushing their teeth. It can wait a little bit.

Hopefully, they're not going to bed with a bottle in their mouth. There we go. I tell you. It's starting already.

It's got to be their idea and then, you have to make it fun for them.

So, another thing you want to do is you don't want to always go to the bathroom.

The child should know that brushing anywhere is fine. I brush in the car. I brush on the road.

Again, no toothpaste. That complicates everything.

But you know, bring in all the grandparents and friends and brush in the living room.

Brush in the kitchen.

Try and brush after the meal, if possible. Get that behavior reinforced.

So, just make it a fun process and lots of smiling faces when she's brushing her teeth.

Reinforcement

So, this is Quinn's first exposure to a toothbrush. I'm not a big fan of the gauze method,

which is the older method. I don't know if any of you have ever tasted what gauze tastes like. It's terrible.

Again, this has to be a good first experience.

She's adjusted well to the toothbrush. And at some point you're gonna want to grab it like this, and you want to...

See, she opens. And you want to literally scrub the gums.

You may not get the teeth. You may not know that you're scrubbing the teeth until you've been scrubbing the gums.

So, don't be afraid to scrub the gums.

The toothbrush has to be ultra soft. Soft enough where if you poke the gums, there's no problem.

She'll get used to it eventually. She already thinks this is a positive experience,

and that's so important. The minute it becomes negative, you have to back off and and find a different method.

The other thing I would do is not lay her down. I would not lay her down, lie the child down flat

because the gag reflex is higher, is more prominent when they're on their back.

They're more worried about their airway when they're on their back.

So, keep them upright or leaning forward a little bit.

Also when you're in the bathroom, if you do brush, hold them in front of the mirror like this,

okay, so they can see themselves.

Alright, I'm not in front of the mirror but in front of a camera now and that's fine.

And basically, you're both going to look in the mirror

and brush together like this.

And that way she'll see that image mirrored and she'll think it's fine. But never lie them down.

Keep them upright. Prevent them from gagging. Gagging is an instinctual, primal instinct and if they associate

that with brushing, you can kiss brushing your kids teeth goodbye.

The last point I want to make is,

You cannot assume that until age 8, and in some cases later, that they are brushing their teeth properly.

I know some thirteen year olds that are not brushing properly. That's a different story.

But you need, as a parent, to brush their teeth after every meal, gently, nicely without toothpaste.

But you need to do it for, until age six seven or eight. That is mandatory.

There's no there's no getting around that. You have to do it.

They will never become a good brusher up until age six, seven or eight.

They'll go through the motions. They'll grab, they'll touch on a few areas,

but they won't do a thorough and complete job.

So, recapping. Keep it simple. Make it fun, which I think we've accomplished here.

And make it a non-threatening exercise. Keep them upright. That's actually the most important point.

And make sure that they see you brushing all the time.

All family members brushing in front of your children, grandchildren.

And again, no toothpaste. I hope that helps. Good luck!

Thanks for watching.

♫ ♪ ♫ Brushing's fun. It's so much fun. It's so much fun. Brushing's fun. ♫ ♪ ♫

Good girl. You're doing a good job!