Diaper changes and children’s oral health?

In my practice, I often find myself talking to parents of young children about diaper changes when counseling on oral health care.  How could the two be related?  It usually comes up when we are speaking to the challenges of parents brushing their infant’s or toddler’s teeth.  Many children struggle a bit when it comes to letting their parents get in their mouth to brush the teeth.  They may cry, kick, grab, bite down or roll away.  Is it worth this struggle to get your child’s teeth clean?  The answer to this question is often found in the answer to another question.  What would you do if your child had a dirty diaper and was not cooperating for a diaper change?  Most parents say that they get it done, no matter what.  Toothbrushing should be put in the same category as diaper changes when taking care of your children.  Skipping it is not an option.  The key to getting it done in a manner that is not traumatic to the child is all a matter of atitude.  When things are not going so well, you should have a “no big deal” approach.  Put a calm smile on your face, be patient, and just brush those teeth.  It helps to lay your child down on their back (on a bed, couch, or changing table) so that you have both hands free.  Use a very thin smear of children’s toothpaste and let them swallow that little bit.  One hand holds the toothbrush and the other hand has a free finger to move lips or cheek out of the way while brushing.  If your child bites down on the toothbrush, just pause and smile and wait.  Your child will figure out that they must open in order for you to complete the brushing.  The whole time just proceed in a matter of fact, fun manner as if your are changing a diaper.  No big deal, just get it done.

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