When to Start Brushing Your Baby’s Teeth: Caring Tips

As your baby’s priceless white pearls erupt, it is time to brush and care for them, to ensure a sound dental health, thus helping him to chew and talk with ease as he grows up.

When should you start brushing your baby’s teeth

Most babies cut their first teeth by seven months of age, though it may come through as early as the fourth month or as late as the twelfth month [1,2,5]. Brushing should begin just after their first teeth grow, but oral care should start much earlier. Massage your newborn’s gums with a soft gauze or washcloth to keep bacterial infections at bay [1,2,11].

How to brush your baby’s teeth

Maintain a fixed brushing schedule of two times a day, in the morning and at night before bed, after nursing or bottle feeding him.

  • If your baby is too small to sit properly, take him on your lap with his head reclining on your chest. For older children (above 2), make them sit on a chair with their head tilted backward, while you stand behind to brush [4,9].
  • Place the brush at an angle of 45° to the teeth, with the bristles pointed to the meeting point of the gum and teeth [10,12].
  • Brush gently in a circular motion back and forth, covering the inner and outer surface of each tooth to eradicate harmful bacteria that causes foul breath [1, 6, 9].
  • In the first year, since you are using a small amount of paste, rinsing with water is not essential as leaving the fluoride helps in strengthening the gums and growing teeth [9].

Note: Your baby will continue getting teeth till about 3 years of age when a set of twenty teeth develops. Hence, in between he may have teething pain, crying and not allowing you to brush. Under such circumstances, massage with a wet washcloth particularly in the area where the new teeth are growing.

What is the best toothpaste for babies

Any brand of fluoride toothpaste would be a good choice as it helps fighting cavities [7]. However, it is advisable to seek a healthcare professional’s advice before selecting the toothpaste.

As per the norms of several dental associations, infants below three years needs to brush two times in a day with about 1000 ppm (parts per million) of fluoride, while those between three and six years need more than 1000 ppm [8].

Applying baking soda directly or using a toothpaste containing it helps to remove tooth stains. However, it is necessary to consult a medical expert regarding the same.

Fluoride Toothpaste for Babies

How much toothpaste to use

In the beginning, the amount of paste should be no more than the size of a rice grain. For children between 3 and 6, increase the quantity to a pea-size [1, 2, 13]. Take care in using only a small amount of toothpaste until your baby can rinse and spit on his own as leaving an excessive amount of fluoride in the mouth can lead to fluorosis, resulting in white spots on his adult teeth [3].

Avoid toothpaste with fruity or tasty flavors as it would encourage your child to lick more of it. Swallowing increased amounts of paste damages the teeth, increasing the risk of fluorosis, besides making the little one fall sick with vomiting and diarrhea [6, 10].

What toothbrush to use

Choose a soft brush with a big handle and small head having a maximum of three rows od bristles that can easily fit into every part of his mouth [2, 5, 6]. Finger brushes may also be opted for if cleaning with a big brush seems a little problematic [5]. Seek assistance from a pediatric dentist or pharmacist regarding selecting a proper toothbrush for your baby.

It is necessary to replace the infant’s toothbrush every three months or even earlier if the bristles have a worn out appearance [1, 6].

Finger Toothbrush for Babies

 Video: Brushing baby teeth

What to do if your baby won’t let you brush his teeth

  • Do not apply force, rather be patient and try several techniques to make him enjoy the activity.
  • Divert his attention by giving him his favorite toy or humming a lullaby.
  • Give him a chance to hold the brush or explore it a little so that he gradually starts to get acquainted with it [5].

When should you take your baby to the dentist

According to the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and AAPD (American Academy of Pediatrics Dentistry), children should be taken to a dentist six months post her first tooth eruption or by the time he reaches the age of one, whichever comes earlier [3].

Though most kids attempt to hold the brush by themselves as they near their second birthday, parents should supervise their brushing till they reach the age of six. The onus also lies on parents to teach their children to brush as well as educate them on the importance of doing so.

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