Brushing Your Baby's Teeth
A common question for parents of a newborn is, “when should I begin brushing my
baby’s teeth?” The typical rule of thumb is first tooth, first brushing. However,
oral cleaning should begin within the first few weeks of a child’s life. Many pediatricians
and dentists recommend using a damp washcloth to wipe off a baby’s gums and tongue
at least twice a day, especially after meals. This will help remove any milk residue,
sugars from juice, and natural mouth bacteria that can cause plaque build up and
decay over time.
Once the first tooth does appear, you should then begin brushing teeth and gums
with a specially made infant toothbrush or a brush with a long handle and small
brush head. Toothpaste at this age is unnecessary and may even be harmful until
the child is old enough to spit it out. If you wish to use toothpaste, look for
special infant toothpaste without fluoride or consult your dentist or pediatrician.
Why Brush Baby Teeth?
Another common question is, “What is the point of brushing baby teeth if they are
just going to fall out?” Although primary teeth, often referred to as baby teeth,
are only the first set of teeth, they hold a lot of value in shaping permanent teeth.
The primary teeth hold place for the permanent set and help set spacing early on,
and they also aid in a child’s speech development. This is why brushing is important
not only for the teeth themselves, but also to help remove plaque build up and prevent
disease in the gums which can affect the growth and health of permanent teeth.
Making brushing fun can help reluctant children more willing to brush their teeth.
With young children, try using a song, story or game to help this time more fun
and give them something to look forward to. Brushing routinely at a young age will
also instill good habits in your child, and they are more likely to continue brushing
and flossing as they grow older, ultimately leading to healthier and better looking
teeth and gums.
Baby's First Dentist Visit
The American Dental Association recommends that a child see
the dentist as early as the first tooth appears, but no later than the first birthday.
This visit will allow the dentist to check for any early signs of tooth decay or
gum disease, but can then also properly show you the correct way to brush your baby’s
Protect baby's teeth and oral health by ensuring adequate
dental insurance. Refer to our children’s oral health timeline for more
information on proper care throughout childhood.