Your baby’s first tooth is a fantastic milestone. While clean gums and avoiding cavities might not be the first thing on your mind when they crack a toothy smile and you reach for your camera, taking care of their dental health is important from a very early age. The good news? It’s a routine that might even turn out to be fun.
Here’s when to start brushing baby teeth.
In this article: 📝
- What happens if you don’t brush baby teeth?
- When should you start brushing baby teeth?
- How to look after your baby’s gums and first teeth
- How to brush baby teeth
- Should you use fluoride toothpaste when brushing baby teeth?
What happens if you don’t brush baby teeth?
It might seem less important to brush baby teeth that are just going to fall out when they start school. But even a little bit of decay in their milk teeth can impact your little one’s future dental health. Cavities can affect how their permanent teeth come through and can sometimes have an impact on their speech development too.
So how do you keep everything healthy?
When should you start brushing baby teeth?
Dentists advise that you start brushing infant teeth from when their first pearly white is pushing through. This often happens at around six months, but it can be as early as three months or as late as twelve, and that’s just fine.
Before this point, you don’t have to do anything at all with your little one’s teeth. That said, it can be helpful to get them used to the routine of cleaning twice a day even before their teeth make their grand entrance.
How to look after your baby’s gums and first teeth
Before their teeth come through, you can clean your baby’s gums with a clean, warm face cloth. All you have to do is dampen it and rub it across their gums with your finger, starting at the back and working forwards.
Not only does this get them used to the feeling of having something in their mouth, but these sessions can also help to soothe teething pain when it starts.
How to brush baby teeth
Once their baby teeth appear, you’ll probably want to switch to a baby toothbrush because, even though they’re tiny, those first teeth can be pretty sharp.
The most important thing is that the brush is small and soft, but your little one might also get excited about one with fun shapes and colors.
As for how long you should brush your baby’s teeth: While the recommended two-minute scrub might seem like a long time, it’s a good way of establishing a healthy oral hygiene habit. You can use a song or a timer to count down if it makes it any easier. And don’t be afraid to take turns. While you’re up, use smaller, gentler versions of the same movements you use for your teeth, and make sure to get all the way to the back. When it’s their turn, just give them lots of praise for moving the brush around. Brushing is essential, but it’s easier if it’s fun too.
Should you use fluoride toothpaste when brushing baby teeth?
Fluoride in toothpaste is well known to strengthen tooth enamel, which is especially important for children. Most children’s toothpaste contains fluoride and is safe to use from six months.
The problem is, if you get too much fluoride, it can actually be bad for your teeth. For babies, swallowing too much toothpaste can also cause some tummy problems so, while they need the fluoride, it’s a bit of a balancing act.
If you want to add a smear of toothpaste to the cloth or toothbrush, the advice is to use a smear the size of a grain of rice until they’re three years old, and then a blob the size of a pea until they’re six or seven. Another good tip for babies younger than one is to brush once in the day with toothpaste and once with plain water.
It might take a while until they learn to rinse and spit, but you can encourage them to tilt their head forward to dribble out the toothpaste in the meantime. It’s messy, but it might just be their favorite part of the routine.