How Do I Brush My Baby’s Teeth? Advice from Your Dentist

Many parents have questions about when and how to brush their baby’s teeth. Do those teeny, little nubs really warrant a toothbrush and a whole lot of extra parental stress? 

The short answer is, yes. 

However, brushing your baby’s teeth doesn’t need to be headache-inducing for you or traumatic for your tiny human. Baby steps (pun intended!) and a little patience will see you sail through early dental care and set your child up for a lifetime of good oral health and excellent dental habits. 

How do I brush my baby’s teeth?

brush baby’s teeth

So, we’ve established that we ought to start brushing as soon as we see those little white teeth poking out of the gum. But, as with anything related to our little one, we need to remember that everything about them is soft and squishy and sensitive. We must take the utmost care to be gentle and to use the right products so that we can have both clean teeth and a happy baby.

What should I use to clean baby teeth?

You have several choices available to you when it comes to brushing instruments:

  • A clean, damp washcloth or a gauze pad
  • A finger brush with soft bristles or with textured rubber or silicon ridges
  • A soft baby toothbrush with a small head and a long, sturdy handle

These options can be used to brush baby’s gums too as this helps to fight bacterial growth and allows your little one time to get used to the feeling of rubbing and brushing in their mouths. 

Can I use toothpaste?

An article from a parenting website comments on this saying, “The American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends using cavity-preventing fluoride toothpaste starting with baby’s very first tooth, rather than waiting until age 2 as was previously recommended. Use a rice-grain-sized smear of toothpaste for your baby or toddler, graduating to a pea-sized dollop by age 3. 

“Don’t worry if your baby swallows some of the toothpaste (as she almost certainly will). In such a small quantity, it won’t cause any damage. Starting in the second year, you can teach your toddler to spit after brushing.”

You may prefer to hold off on the toothpaste in the early stages of brushing, but if you have questions on this topic then chat with our dental team who will be able to offer some guidance. 

What if my baby doesn’t like having their teeth brushed?

An aversion to teeth brushing isn’t unusual at all, so if your baby doesn’t love it when you push a foreign object into their mouth, don’t worry too much. 

There are many ways to get your little one used to brushing their teeth. Consider these ideas:

  • Don’t force the issue. Start small, perhaps with a short gum rub using a soft rubber finger brush and make the experience as pleasurable as possible. 
  • Let them try it themselves. Give your little one a toothbrush and let them do it themselves – under your close supervision of course. Children are notoriously independent so allowing them a DIY solution may work better for you than doing it for them. 
  • Some baby toys are made to clean little teeth without your child even knowing that it’s happening. Easy-to-grip rubbery toys with soft bristles will get your baby used to the feeling in their mouth – without the anxiety that can go along with it. 
  • Babies are born imitators. Let them watch you as you brush your teeth and as they grow older, they will accept that this is a natural part of life.

Good habits start now

The real trick behind brushing your baby’s teeth is to introduce it early and to make it a fun part of their day. 

A small start will quickly become a good habit, and gradually your little bundle of joy will know that brushing their teeth is a pleasant and normal part of life, just like a bedtime story.

Cavities can quickly develop in milk teeth under the right conditions, and early tooth decay can create long-term dental issues. Rather, start and maintain a good oral routine. 

At around a year old you’ll take your baby to your local dentist for a check-up. During this appointment, your child will get used to the chair and experience their first foray into regular oral hygiene as your dentist gently checks that their little smile bones are developing as expected, are clean and there are no issues. 

Our team at Shine Dental are experienced in caring for anxious patients, and we make sure that every patient feels safe and comfortable when they visit us. We know that both parents and babies will feel a sense of trepidation when coming into the dentist, but we’d like to encourage you to chat with our team and explain your concerns so that we can offer the very best care possible. 

We look forward to seeing you and your family soon.

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