Babies do not come with manuals, meaning all of our child rearing questions must be discovered by researching , and asking questions. Just as parents need to learn how much to feed their baby and when to take them to the doctor for checkups , they need to know when to start brushing baby teeth.
From zero to three years old, babies have a mouthful of gums before the baby’s teeth erupt. There are so many questions about whether it is vital to brush baby gums before teeth appear.
Many new parents question the importance of brushing infant and toddler teeth when those teeth are not permanent. The truth is good oral hygiene habits must start young for a lifetime of good brushing habits. If you aren’t brushing your baby’s teeth, those teeth can quickly decay and interfere with your child’s nutrition and speech development.
Keep on reading for more information on brushing your baby’s teeth and overall pediatric dentistry.
Gum Health – 0-3 Months
The Super Dentists recommends that parents clean baby gums shortly after birth. Most babies don’t have any teeth erupting between zero to three months of age, and some don’t get their first tooth until around six months. This is a great time to begin cleaning gums.
Baby Teeth Health – 3 to 12 months
When to start brushing baby teeth? When you see that first baby tooth emerging from inside your child’s mouth, it’s time to get the small toothbrush and toothpaste out. This usually happens when babies are between three and six months old.
What About Toothpaste?
Fluoride is an essential part of your child’s dental hygiene routine, but you don’t want to use it too much. All children should use fluoride toothpaste when the first tooth comes in.
If your child is younger than three years old, caretakers should only use a small amount of toothpaste on the brush, around the size of a grain of rice. You can use a pea-size amount for children over three years of age. Have your child be sure to spit out the toothpaste instead of swallowing it.
Teeth and Gum Cleaning for Babies
Brushing newborn gums is a crucial step in nurturing their dental well-being right from the start. As your little one’s first teeth begin to emerge, embracing gentle and effective brushing techniques becomes essential to prevent cavities, ensure proper growth, and establish positive oral hygiene habits.
Why Brushing Infant Gums is Important
Parents have many questions about whether it’s necessary to start cleaning baby gums. While it is not recommended to brush a baby’s mouth with a toothbrush or use toothpaste before the teeth emerge, wiping the gums is a wise practice.
Why is it essential to wipe down a baby’s gums? It’s because babies produce less saliva than adults, which can lead to more bacteria (especially when not brushed away), causing a host of problems, including cavities.
Wiping a baby’s gums with a clean, damp cloth can be beneficial for two reasons. First, wiping gums daily will clean decay-causing bacteria from your baby’s mouth. Secondly, wiping baby gums can get them prepared for future tooth brushing.
There are a few options when it comes to cleaning baby gums. If you are not supposed to use a toothbrush on baby gums, what do you use instead? Cleaning gums is a much more gentle approach.
- Cradle your baby in one arm and clean with the other.
- Use a washcloth or piece of gauze that is soft and moistened with water.
- Try an infant toothbrush made of soft rubber that fits over mom or dad’s finger for a perfect gum massage and cleaning.
- Gently wipe down the baby’s gums twice a day; no toothpaste is necessary.
- Never put your baby to bed with a bottle or prop the bottle.
- Be sensitive to babies who are teething and may have swollen gums.
Washing your baby’s gums removes bacteria that clings to them and can leave behind a plaque that damages baby teeth as they come in.
What Age Do You Clean Gums and Teeth?
It’s important to understand that brushing your young child’s gums and teeth is important for their overall dental care. Understanding when your child is ready will ensure you get them started off on the right foot.
Brushing Baby Teeth
Teeth brushing is so important that it is never too early to begin the process of maintaining your baby’s oral health. Baby teeth are already formed underneath the gums when the baby is in the womb, which is why early gum care will help those teeth that haven’t erupted healthy.
Brushing your baby’s teeth is not for the faint of heart. This can be an arduous task that takes time to master. Equipped with some good tips and skills, brushing your baby’s teeth doesn’t have to feel like going into battle. Here are a few best practices about how to brush baby teeth and make it a fun experience.
- Bring your baby’s favorite stuffed animal or lovey into the bathroom for tooth brushing time.
- Play fun kid’s tunes or break out your best singing voice as a distraction.
- Tell stories.
- Let your baby choose her own toothbrush with her favorite character
- Allow your baby to play with their toothbrush to make your child feel comfortable with brushing.
What is the best way to assist your baby or toddler in the toothbrushing process? Here are a few tips about how to brush baby teeth effectively.
- Lay the infant down so that the back of their head is resting on an adult’s lap.
- The adult should use one hand to gently lift the infant’s lips so that the teeth are completely visible and the other hand to brush the infant’s teeth gently.
- Enlist another adult to hold the infant’s hands to prevent them from grabbing at the toothbrush.
- Place the brush at a 45-degree angle and gently brush in a circular motion for 2 minutes.
- Recommended that parents help children brush their teeth until they are 7 or 8.
How Often Should You Brush Baby Teeth?
It is very important to brush your child’s teeth twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed, just like adults.
If your child has touching teeth, it is time to get out the floss and help them floss in between their teeth at least once a day. Parents should continue to brush their children’s teeth, or assist their children’s tooth brushing until they are comfortable that their children can brush thoroughly on their own.
Should You Brush Baby Teeth Before or After Milk?
When brushing a baby’s teeth, it’s important to understand the positives and negatives of brushing before or after milk.
The general recommendation is to brush your baby’s teeth before they have their milk, especially before bedtime. Here’s why:
- Brushing before milk helps prevent accumulation of sugar and bacteria on the teeth. Even breast milk contains natural sugar that will promote the growth of bacteria.
- Brushing before bedtime is particularly crucial. During sleep, saliva production decreases, which means there’s less natural cleansing of the mouth.
- If your baby consumes milk or any other sugary liquids before sleep, it can linger on their teeth for an extended period, increasing the likelihood of cavities.
When Should Kids Start Brushing Their Teeth?
As children grow and develop, fostering independence is important, and this extends to their oral care routine. While it’s crucial for parents or caregivers to oversee and assist in teeth brushing until a certain age, gradually introducing kids to self-brushing is a valuable step in their dental journey.
Typically, most children are ready to begin brushing their teeth themselves around the age of 6 to 8, when they’ve developed the fine motor skills and coordination needed to effectively maneuver a toothbrush.
However, it’s important to note that readiness varies from child to child, and some may be ready a bit earlier or later.
It’s important to pay attention to your child’s motor skills and don’t have expectations. Every child learns at a different pace and if you force them to brush their own teeth before they’re ready, they may not do it properly resulting in cavities and bad oral health.
What Type of Toothbrushes Are Recommended for Baby Teeth?
One of the most important factors in choosing the correct toothbrush for baby teeth is the size of the head. Knowing when a child should start using a toothbrush (when the first tooth begins to erupt) or what kind of toothbrush you should buy can help your child get on the right path for a lifetime of good oral hygiene.
Small mouths require smaller brushes to reach around the entire front and both sides of the child’s teeth. Choose a toothbrush that has nice soft bristles to protect their sensitive gums from being damaged. The soft bristles will also help make brushing a more comfortable exercise for babies who are teething.
Electric toothbrushes are all the rage right now for removing pesky plaque, but are they the right choice for children? Dentists recommend waiting until children are three years old before giving them an electric toothbrush.
Check out our kid’s electric Super Dentist Toothbrush.
You might also be interested in learning more about our oral health subscription service, SuperMouth. With SuperMouth, we’ll send you a box of everything you need including toothpaste, brushes, floss, and childrens mouth rinse.
To recap, here are the qualities to look for when choosing a toothbrush for baby:
- A small toothbrush head that fits comfortably in your baby’s mouth.
- Soft bristles to aid in comfortable brushing on teething gums.
- Large handle so children can grab it to assist in their brushing.
- BPA-free material.
- No electric toothbrushes until age 3.
Now that you know how and when to start brushing babies teeth, don’t forget we’re here for you and your entire family, from your children’s first dental visit and well beyond!
Book an appointment with The Super Dentists today, and if you have any questions about your upcoming visit or anything else, call us at 1 (855) GO SUPER. You can also shoot us a text message at 1 (844) 765-1234.