Start early, stay healthy. Although no teeth are present at birth, cleaning those gum pads is recommended. The infant may not like it, and be fussy about it, but slowly would get into the habit. If done routinely, initial gum pads cleaning and later on teeth brushing, becomes a part of daily life and kids may grow up eventually enjoying the same.
The gum pads may be cleaned with a moist soft washcloth after every meal and just before nap time. Breastfeeding/bottle feeding during sleep does not go hand in hand with healthy and decay free teeth and thus should be avoided as far as possible.
Between 5-8 months, your baby’s first teeth will begin erupting in mouth; this period is known as teething. This may not be a very happy period for your kid and he/she may be distressed or irritated all the time. Do not worry, it’s a part of normal growing process and brushing should be started as soon as the first tooth erupts fully. It will be difficult again initially, but relax… kids are fussy about almost all healthy things (remember your green veggies???) Give them time to learn and adapt this habit, teach them by brushing your own teeth well in front of them.
Use a finger brush to begin with, and then shift to a small sized toothbrush. Flouridated toothpaste is recommended; a tiny smear of paste pressed inside the bristles till 3 years of age, and then increase the amount to a pea size.
It is recommended that caregivers supervise brushing of their kids till the age of 7 due to lack of manual dexterity in younger age group. Even if it takes a while to teach them to brush routinely and effectively, it’s worth the effort because a habit cultivated in childhood lasts a lifetime. Also, progress of decay is faster in children as compared to adults. Thus it’s important to remove the deposits (plaque) on teeth as well as the decay causing bacteria.
Make brushing fun by adding games, story telling, singing songs or using a sand timer along with it. You can give them rewards in month end for brushing and maintaining hygiene well. Make brushing look like a fun thing with benefits so that children will look forward to do it.