What an exciting time it is for parents when their precious bundle of joy gets that very first tooth. Although this is an exciting time, it can also be stressful as you worry about teething pain and caring for your baby’s new pearly whites. Brushing baby’s first teeth is key to establishing healthy oral hygiene habits that will stay with them throughout their lives
Start before their teeth come in
You can start caring for baby’s teeth even before they come in. Before bed and after her last bottle, wipe her gums with either a wet washcloth, a wet gauze, or an infant toothbrush. You can also purchase a soft, rubbery device that goes on your finger that you can use to gently massage baby’s gums. In addition to cleaning her gums, the gentle massaging will provide some relief from teething pain.
When do I start brushing my baby’s teeth?
Some parents think that baby teeth aren’t important to care for since they will be replaced by permanent ones; however, this simply isn’t true. Once baby’s teeth start to break through between six and ten months, they can start to develop cavities. It is important to start taking care of these new teeth right away. Baby teeth play an important role in her development because they hold space for permanent teeth. They also help them talk and chew their food. If your baby’s teeth are not cared for properly, it can lead to tooth decay and gingivitis (gum infection), which can affect the spacing of their permanent teeth when they’re older.
When and how do I brush my baby’s teeth?
It is recommended that you brush your baby’s teeth twice a day (in the morning and before bedtime), for about two minutes at a time. Here’s how:
- Wet a baby toothbrush with a little bit of water (no toothpaste is needed until your baby turns 18 months old).
- Hold your baby’s chin in your hands, with their head resting against your body.
- Gently brush the teeth all over, in soft, circular motions.
- Lift your baby’s lips to brush the front and back of the teeth and the gum line.
- Carefully massage the gums around the teeth.
What kind of toothbrush is best?
Before baby has teeth, you don’t necessarily need a toothbrush; you can use a wet cloth, gauze, or even your clean finger (if your child is not a biter). However, once baby’s teeth come in, you should begin using a toothbrush. Look for an infant/baby toothbrush with a very small head that can easily fit into baby’s mouth. Choose a toothbrush that has safety shields that don’t allow baby to grab the brush out of your hand or stick it too far into the mouth and choke.
Planning baby’s first visit to the dentist
The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that babies get their first dental exam around age 1, or when their first tooth appears. If you take good care of your baby’s teeth and start teaching her about good dental hygiene early on, you can help establish good dental habits for a lifetime.
Dr. Steven Hagerman welcomes the opportunity to care for your baby’s pearly whites. The Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of Minneapolis/St. Paul specialize in making patients of all ages feel comfortable and safe, providing them with the personalized care they deserve. To schedule an appointment or consultation, please call our office at (651) 646-2392. You can also request an appointment online.