At birth people usually have 20 baby teeth, which start to come in at about 6 months of age. It is around this time that paediatricians may tell parents to start brushing their child's teeth. While appreciated advice, it is easier said than done. You may still be trying to figure out how to make nutritious purées and get them to sleep more than six hours a night, let alone clean their teeth!
Most babies will have all of their primary teeth by the time they’re 24 to 30 months old. Assuming your little one doesn’t eat a lot of sweets and has a healthy, balanced diet, this is probably a good time to start thinking about oral hygiene.
Around the two year mark children like to mimic their parents and do big people stuff. If you tell your child that now that they are older, one of the things they need to do is start brushing their teeth, they should respond positively and look forward to trying something new.
Turning the process into an activity helps. Going to the library and taking out books will help them learn about why and how we brush our teeth. Next, a trip to the drugstore together to pick out a toothbrush is in order. This is a win-win event because kids love presents and they are sure to find something in their favourite color or with their favourite animated character. Having their own toothbrush will make them eager to get started.
As for the toothpaste, I would leave that to the parents because it can be a little tricky. You’ll want to find one that is age appropriate, and, I would suggest, all natural or organic because it can take a while before your child grasps the concept of spitting out the toothpaste as they brush.
Dentists will recommend cleaning your child’s teeth twice a day, but if this unrealistic for you, you should do it at least once before bedtime. If you don't get rid of the germs (bacteria) and sugars that cause cavities, they have all night to do their dirty work. Plus, when your child is asleep, he or she does not produce as much spit (or saliva). Saliva helps keep the mouth clean. So brushing at bedtime is very important.
Don't worry about helping them brush, the important thing is to encourage good dental health for kids so that it turns into a lifelong habit!