Even before your baby’s first teeth erupt, pediatric dentists and pediatricians highly recommend to regularly clean your newborn’s gums using a soft washcloth right after breastfeeding or bottle feeding. You should gently massage the gums with the piece of cloth wrapped around your finger to help prevent the buildup of plaque bacteria, you could learn more about cosmetic dentistry here.
You can also buy an easy to use silicone soft rubbery device (it fits over your index finger) to rub off your infant’s gums and remove sugars (found in formula) and bacteria that can lead to future decay. This finger toothbrush can be also placed in the freezer and used to soothe your baby when he’s teething. Another great alternative to washcloth is the 360 degree toothbrush: STB Baby Child 360 degree Toothbrush Step 1 or Baby Buddy 360 Toothbrush Step 1. You can also give your baby the option to hold and control the toothbrush with this Baby Buddy Baby’s 1st Toothbrush. Although starting as a game for your infant, this is a good practice towards a life of healthy oral habits with proactive oral care.
Gum brushing for your baby can be done more easily if he is lying on the bed or on a change table. You can slowly increase the time taken to brush until the baby gets used to a two minute brushing as a toddler.
After your baby’s teeth start to show up, you can buy a regular shaped toothbrush. The toothbrush must be soft, with a small head to fit the baby’s tiny mouth and a long handle designed for the grip of an adult. Here are a few examples of suitable toothbrushes for this stage: RADIUS Pure Baby Toothbrush for 6 months + with Ultra Soft Bristles, Green Sprouts Silicone Baby Toothbrush or Summer Infant Oral Care Kit.
At the beginning it is not necessary to use toothpaste, just wet the head of the brush and then softly clean your infant`s teeth, front and back.
After the teeth erupt, you can start using a very small amount of toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice. You will increase the quantity to a peas sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when your child is 3 years old. The toothpaste must be age-appropriate. Therefore, children under 6 years old must use a toothpaste that does not exceed 45 mg of fluoride per 100 g of toothpaste. Kids over 6yo can use a toothpaste with 100-150 mg of fluoride per 100 g of toothpaste. There is also a better and healthier option, that of fluoride-free toothpaste with all organic and natural ingredients, made especially for children.
When your child gets bigger (8 yo), he can use toothpaste the size of a peanut to brush his teeth.
You should remember that although your baby tries to use the brush on his own, you should be the one that actually cleans his teeth until he develops a good hand-mouth coordination (when he`s about 3-4 yo). After he starts brushing his mouth well by himself, you should always check that he did it properly.
Also keep in mind the following:
- It is particularly important that your baby brushes his teeth before bedtime, otherwise bacteria and sugars that remain in the mouth will attack the teeth and gums during the night;
- The toothbrush must be replaced at least every three months (or when you observe that its bristles are damaged);
- Use a toothbrush with soft bristles, to prevent hurting your child’s gums
- Children learn by imitation. It is particularly important for your kid to learn how to brush properly (brushing should last at least two minutes);
- At the age of 1, your child must be fully accustomed to the ritual of brushing his teeth after breakfast and before bedtime or rinsing them whenever is needed.
- Children who have not learned about good oral hygiene habits before they are five years old will have difficulties in learning about it later.
Always observe how your baby’s teeth erupt and grow. If you see any signs of brown spots or pits, make an appointment to the dentist. These are starting points in tooth decay and should be immediately taken care of.
What are your experiences regarding brushing your baby’s teeth?