Taking care of a baby can be intimidating and overwhelming. If you are a first-time parent, you are probably clueless about many things, and that includes brushing their teeth.
Even babies require proper dental care. To have healthy gums and teeth, regular brushing is a must. But when should you start brushing your baby’s teeth? How would you do it right? Read on and learn from the insights we’ll share in this short guide.
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When to Start Brushing Baby’s Teeth
From bathtime to bedtime, new parents have a long list of crucial concerns. In this post, we’ll focus on their oral health. Babies are fragile, so most parents are often too scared of doing many things to them, including brushing their teeth. However, learning how to brush baby’s teeth is necessary to ensure their oral health.
According to the American Dental Association, you should start brushing baby teeth upon the eruption of the first tooth, which often happens in the sixth month or before the baby’s first year. While your baby’s 20 primary teeth are already present at birth, they start becoming visible only when they turn six months.
The appearance of the first tooth is not only a sign that you should start brushing. More so, it also means that you should see a dentist. Doing so can provide a thorough assessment of your child’s oral health while also receiving professional tips on proper dental hygiene.
How to Brush Baby’s Teeth: 5 Quick Tips for Success
Brushing teeth is one thing that most parents struggle with. This is a different process from cleaning adult teeth. You need to be gentle. At the same time, you should exert enough pressure, making sure that you thoroughly clean the baby’s mouth.
Pick the Right Brush
One of the most important things to consider is picking the right toothbrush. Pick one with a small head and soft bristles, which will be gentle on the mouth. If it is too big and the bristles are too hard, your baby will end up being uncomfortable.
Choose the Right Toothpaste
Choosing the right toothpaste is also crucial. The American Academy of Pediatrics approves using fluoride toothpaste even in babies. It is safe, so you need not worry. Nonetheless, if you are uncomfortable, then you should wait until the child can spit before using fluoride toothpaste. However, the most important thing is to use it sparingly. A small smear will be more than enough. You can switch to a pea-sized amount once the child turns three years old.
Position the Baby Correctly
Be mindful of the position of the baby when brushing.
We recommend the knee-to-knee technique, which requires two adults who are facing each other with touching knees. Lay your baby down with the head resting on one adult’s lap. The legs, meanwhile, should be on the lap of the other adult. The adult with the lap where the baby’s head is positioned should lift the lips gently until the teeth are visible. The other hand will brush the teeth. Meanwhile, the other adult will comfort the baby while holding their hands.
Move the toothbrush back and forth in a circular motion. Try to do this for at least two minutes, making sure to go to the hard-to-reach areas. Like adults, babies should brush their teeth twice a day.
Make it Fun!
Keeping the baby engaged is one of the biggest challenges among parents. Therefore, it is best if you can do it with another adult who will comfort or distract the infant. More so, you can also play a short song or fun music.
Many times, you will find the baby refusing this process. Do not give up. Keep doing the right thing, and eventually, your baby will get used to it. Remember: be gentle when you are brushing your baby’s teeth. Their mouths are sensitive, so they will end up in pain or discomfort if you are too harsh.
How to Clean the Mouth Before the First Tooth Appears
Having no teeth does not mean that you can neglect oral care of your baby. You should also have a cleaning routine to protect the gums from bacteria build-up. Babies have minimal saliva, so cleaning the mouth is vital.
However, this is not the time to use a toothbrush.
When cleaning the gums of the baby, start by having clean hands. Wrap a gauze pad or washcloth on your finger. Use water to dampen it then gently rub the tongue, cheeks, and gums. This will wipe out food and liquids. You can also purchase terry cots, which are made of soft coverings and specifically designed for cleaning a baby’s mouth.
Other Infant Oral Care Tips
Brushing alone is not enough. Here are other things to keep in mind when it comes to infant oral care:
- Consider dental treatments for stronger teeth, including fluoride varnish. It is safe even for babies, especially when done by a qualified dental professional. It is an FDA-approved procedure, so you can be confident about its safety. It will help strengthen the enamel, making it less prone to dental caries.
- Avoid putting your baby to sleep with a feeding bottle in the mouth. This can cause milk to pool around the mouth, which will encourage bacterial growth and cause tooth decay. The longer milk stays in the mouth, the more of a risk it can be.
- When the baby reaches 12 months, start weaning from baby bottles and transition into the use of a cup. This makes sure that they will swallow the milk directly instead of pooling in the mouth.
- Visit the dentist regularly. This is an opportunity to have a thorough checkup while also being given professional advice on how to promote the best oral care for the little ones.
In sum, you should start brushing the baby’s teeth upon the appearance of the first tooth, which usually happens in the sixth month. Pick a small-headed toothbrush with soft bristles. Use a smear of toothpaste formulated with the needs of babies in mind. Brush back and forth in a circular motion twice a day.
Aside from brushing, don’t forget other practices for oral care, including a regular dental visit.
When did you start brushing your baby’s teeth? Do you have any tips you’d like to share? Let us know below!