How & When To Start Brushing Your Baby’s Teeth?

Written by MomJunction • 

Has your baby sprouted those first pearls yet? Are your days being spent trying to make your baby smile, just so you can see those little pearls inside? Whether your baby has just one tooth that is visible or a few more, it is imperative that you take care of them.

Babies tend to put everything in their mouths leading to numerous chances of diseases and infections. Read on to know how and when you should start cleaning your baby’s pearly whites.

Your Baby’s First Visit to the Dentist:

Generally, you should visit the dentist with your baby by the first birthday. Yes, your baby should have the first dentist appointment at around the twelfth month.

The dentist will suggest various oral hygiene techniques. Your dentist will explain how to help your baby with teething and how you can introduce the concept of brushing to your baby. Your dentist will also tell you whether your baby can start using toothpaste and recommend some good toothpaste for your little one.

Start With The Gums:

Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, it is important to take care of the gums. Initially you don’t need a toothbrush or toothpaste to do so. To ensure you are cleaning your baby’s gums properly, follow these steps:

  • Take a soft handkerchief or washcloth and moist it with drinking water.
  • Wrap this cloth around your index finger.
  • Now gently wipe your baby’s gums at least twice a day (make sure you are not applying too much pressure as it can hurt your baby’s gums).
  • Alternatively, you can buy a finger toothbrush that is made of a soft rubbery material.
  • Do this after mealtime and before bed time.
  • This will help set the tone for a brushing routine later.

Doing this will remove the bacteria from your baby’s gums. Bacteria often leave behind a sticky plaque. This can be damaging to your baby’s teeth as they start to protrude out of the gums.

Taking Care of Your Baby’s First Tooth:

You may think that it is okay to not care much for your baby’s teeth as these will eventually fall off. But these first teeth actually help preserve the spacing. These also help your baby chew the food and help in talking properly. If you do not take care of your baby’s first teeth, it can lead to tooth decay. This will lead to germ build-up, leading to further damage.

How and When To Brush Your Baby’s Teeth:

You should start taking care of your baby’s teeth from the moment they appear. This will vary from baby to baby. While some babies will get their first tooth around the fifth month, some may get it later or earlier. Some babies are even born with a pearly!

As soon as you see that first tooth, you know it is time to get a baby toothbrush. Look for one that has a small head, has very soft bristles and has a big handle that your baby can easily grasp.

For the first few months, you may need to hold the toothbrush and brush your baby’s teeth. You’re your baby’s brush till the time your baby is big enough to hold it properly. Remember to brush both the front and the back of your baby’s teeth. Brush gently and also clean the gums while brushing. In the beginning your baby will mostly be chewing on the bristles of the toothbrush. Don’t worry and don’t stop. This is your baby’s way of familiarizing with the brushing routine. Make your baby follow a brushing routine, once in the morning and once at night. Just put a little water on your baby’s toothbrush and gently brush the teeth.

If your baby is rather active, you can use the toothbrush while baby is lying down on a safe surface. A good way to start doing this is on the bed. Once your baby gets accustomed to the routine, you may gradually move on to the bathroom.

Replace your baby’s toothbrush every three to four weeks. In case the bristles look chewed or damaged, replace it immediately.

Do I Need To Use Toothpaste?

No, you don’t need toothpaste to brush your baby’s teeth in the first few years. Brushing is enough to remove any build-up and prevent decay. If you still want to introduce toothpaste, use ones that are meant for infants. These will have minimal amount of fluoride. Do check with your baby’s doctor on which toothpaste to chose.

Before you introduce the toothpaste to your baby, it is important your baby knows about brushing. Let your baby practice for a few weeks. Once the brushing is over, gently massage your baby’s gums. Also ensure you wash your baby’s mouth, both from the inside and outside.

Special fluoride toothpastes are available for babies. These can be introduced once your baby is 18 months or more. Do read the instructions carefully. Start by placing a minimal amount of toothpaste on your baby’s toothbrush. This is enough in the initial phase. You will have to encourage your baby to rinse and spit out the toothpaste. Most babies end up swallowing the toothpaste, although harmless, it is recommended you avoid letting your baby swallow the toothpaste. You may also try teaching your baby about rinsing with water and spitting it out, before you introduce the toothpaste. This will ensure your baby will already know how to spit out while using the toothpaste. If your baby is still not able to spit out the toothpaste despite your teaching, you can use a washcloth to wipe it out. This will ensure no traces of the toothpaste are left inside your baby’s mouth.

Introducing your baby to oral hygiene at an early age is crucial. It is also a fun task, one where baby and parents can brush together. Your baby will learn from you, so do brush regularly in with your baby, especially while you are still teaching.

At what age did you introduce your baby to brushing? Was your baby interested or was it difficult initially to teach? Did you use toothpaste for your baby or just water? Do share your tips on how you have been taking care of your baby’s first teeth.

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