We wash the baby’s head, feet, hands daily, but we often skip washing the first teeth and its mouth.
When and how? Maintaining oral hygiene starts in the first few weeks after the child’s birth – way before the first teeth appear. Washing of the mouth is done with a sterile gauze pad, wrapped tightly around your index finger. You can soak the gauze in sterile water (water left boiling for some time, cool down before use) or diluted hydrogen peroxide. Rub very gently, without pressure, onto the inside of the cheeks, the tongue and the gums of the baby. This way you clean any remains of milk and bacteria in the oral cavity and establish the first hygiene habits in the baby. It’s best to do it twice a day – after the morning and the evening feeding.
The first tooth appears around 6 – 10 month. It changes the cleaning routine. Start using a small silicon finger toothbrush. Put it on your index finger and again clean the first teeth, the inside of the cheeks, tongue and gums gently and without pressure. Initially, this is done without using a toothpaste, because the child does not spit it out. Later, you can start using one, but always make sure it is age appropriate. The amount you put on the brush is about the size of a rice grain. Even if you cannot rinse the child’s mouth or cannot make it spit out the paste, do not worry, as long as the paste is suitable for the child’s age and does not contain fluorine.
A children’s toothbrush can be used around the 10 – 11 month. At this age the child can hold the brush stably. Brushing the teeth will be assisted by the parent until the age of 7 – 8 years, when the fine motor skills of the child are developed and brushing is an effective process.
Make sure you carefully choose the toothbrush for your child. The younger the child the smaller the head of the brush should be, so it can reach all corners without hurting the oral cavity.
Change the brush once every two months. If the child has recently been ill with an infectious disease developing in the throat or upper airways, also change the toothbrush.