As parents, you want to do everything possible to look after your baby and keep them happy and healthy as they grow.
One of the most important things you can do for your bundle of joy is to take care of their gums and milk teeth, as poor dental health in infants may hamper speech development, cause future oral problems and impact overall health.
It's important to start early, so just when should you start brushing your baby's teeth, and how should you do it? Follow our guide to brushing baby's teeth with all the advice you need on keeping them happy and healthy.
Table of Contents
- When should I start brushing my baby's gums?
- When should you start brushing your baby's teeth?
- Do babies need toothpaste?
- How do I care for my new baby's teeth?
- What happens if I don't brush my baby's teeth?
- What to do if your baby hates having teeth brushed
When should I start brushing my baby's gums?
It's recommended to clean your baby's gums early on. After feedings, use a soft, damp cloth or a soft rubber or silicone finger brush to wipe over the gums. You don't need to use a toothbrush until the teeth appear.
Cleaning the gums can prevent bacterial growth and promote good oral health even before seeing your baby's first tooth.
When should you start brushing your baby's teeth?
Start brushing baby's teeth as soon as they start pushing through - usually around 6 months. The most important thing is getting them in the routine, so don't worry if you don't manage to brush their teeth for long at first.
When choosing a toothbrush, there are a few things to keep in mind, including the size, the type of bristles, and how often you should replace it.
Make sure you choose a toothbrush designed for infants with a small head and a maximum of three rows of bristles that will fit comfortably in your baby's mouth. It’s best to find one with a longer, easy-grip handle that will make it easier for you to hold when they’re wiggling around.
It's also important to ensure the toothbrush has soft bristles as they are gentle on teeth and gums. Harder bristles might cause gum irritation and could damage the enamel on your baby's teeth.
Make sure to replace your baby's toothbrush every 2-4 months or sooner if the edges begin to fray. This will ensure the toothbrushes are clean and no bacteria has built up in the bristles.
Electric toothbrushes are only suitable after your child is three years old. After this age, choose a suitable kids' electric toothbrush or device.
Do babies need toothpaste?
Use a baby fluoride toothpaste as soon as their first tooth pokes through. Be sure to pick a specific baby toothpaste, as adult toothpaste may contain too much fluoride.
- For babies and toddlers up to 3 years old, use a tiny smear of baby fluoride toothpaste.
- Between the ages of 3 to 6 years, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
Don't worry if your baby swallows some of the toothpaste - this will almost certainly be the case! Using such a tiny smear of toothpaste means no damage will be done.
When your baby becomes a toddler, around two years old, teach them how to spit out the toothpaste after brushing.
How do I care for my new baby's teeth?
When brushing your baby's teeth, it's important to use the right technique to ensure you're cleaning all surfaces of the teeth and gums.
Follow these top teeth-brushing tips:
- Sit your baby on your knee in a comfortable position, with their head resting on your chest. For older children, stand behind them and have them tilt their heads backward.
- Wet the toothbrush bristles with water and apply a small amount of fluoride toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice, for up to 3 years and a pea-sized amount for 3-6 years.
- Use gentle circular motions to brush the front, back, and top of each tooth to cover all surfaces. Make sure you brush down to the gum line.
- Encourage your child to spit the toothpaste out after but do not rinse with water as it will wash away the fluoride.
- Clean the toothbrush thoroughly with water and store it in a clean, dry place.
Aim to brush your child's teeth for around two minutes or as long as they allow you. Don't worry if you don't brush your baby's teeth for long at the start. The main thing is to get them used to it. Gradually start brushing their teeth more thoroughly, twice a day: once before bed and once at another convenient time.
When do children start brushing their own teeth?
Toddlers may want to try brushing their own teeth as they start grabbing the toothbrush to have a go. If your toddler has the dexterity, let them try so they get used to the motion, but follow with your usual thorough cleaning.
Continue brushing your child's teeth until they're old enough to do it properly, usually until they're at least seven years old.
What happens if I don't brush my baby's teeth?
As soon as your baby's tooth begins to poke through, plaque can build up on the surface of the tooth, which, if left to build up, can cause tooth decay and cavities.
Prematurely lost baby teeth can interfere with your child’s speech development as the oral cavity is the main place where the speech articulation of certain sounds happens.
Baby teeth also hold a proper place for adult teeth, so if decayed teeth fall out, it can mean that the adult teeth grow crooked.
Brushing your baby's teeth early will establish healthy habits and keeps your baby's mouth healthy for the future.
How to brush teeth for fussy babies
There are far more fun things for babies than tooth brushing, but with it being vital for their oral health, it's worth making teeth brushing more fun to calm fussy babies.
Especially when it comes to teething, a baby's gums will be soft and tender, so they may put up more resistance when they see the toothbrush come out.
- Brush gently - Babies' gums are gentle even when not teething, so start gently to avoid irritation.
- Lead by example - Babies copy. Show them how you brush your teeth and take turns so they see it as more of a game.
- Let your baby hold the toothbrush - Your baby will naturally be curious about the toothbrush and may want to examine it. Let them hold and see it so they feel more comfortable with what's happening.
- Sing a song - Singing their favorite song will be a welcome distraction, keeping their attention on more fun things. As they grow, check out our devices for children over 3, which allow you to record and play back your voice.
- Start gum brushing from the start, and wipe after feedings.
- Start brushing as soon as the teeth begin to poke through the gums.
- Choose a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles.
- Use a tiny amount of baby fluoride toothpaste.
- Start by brushing for a small amount of time and gradually build it up to 2 minutes twice a day.
Caring for your child's teeth
Starting good dental habits early in life can lead your baby to a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
As your child grows and they start brushing their own teeth, find a toothbrush that keeps them engaged.
Our kid's devices allow you to record your voice and play it back to make teeth brushing more fun. The devices come with a U-shaped brushing tray for 360 cleanings and a replacement brush to evolve them into the next generation of brushes. They also allow feature red and blue lights to kill bacteria and improve circulation.
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