Those Brand-New Teeth!
As a mother of two girls, I know first-hand how delicate baby’s teeth and gums are, and that very sensitive and extra special care is needed for them when it comes to daily tooth care. Everyone wants to give their child a head start on a healthy smile, and that requires some attention and a little bit of patience. Here are some pointers to get you started on how to care for a baby’s teeth. These steps can help you better care for your baby’s teeth so they start to learn from the very beginning what proper home care entails.
When you see your baby’s first tooth emerging, you can start cleaning the baby’s teeth up to twice a day. Brushing at least once a day at bedtime will help remove harmful bacteria and plaque that can cause tooth decay. Typically, a baby’s first tooth will appear around 6-7 months of age. This isn’t definite though. Your baby’s first tooth may appear much earlier or later- don’t worry if by 7 months your babe doesn’t have a tooth yet! You can start to wipe the tooth with a wet wash cloth if the toothbrush is too big or uncomfortable to your baby. Starting early is good as it will help the baby get used to having her teeth cleaned. The two lower teeth will often be the first to emerge (lower incisors), followed by the two upper (central incisors).
Your child will likely need your assistance in her tooth care routine until they are about seven. Most dentists (of which I am one) recommend you brush and floss a child’s teeth until they are about 6 years old, as their dexterity isn’t quite there to properly brush. By that time, your child should be able to brush her teeth on her own with some supervision. Continue to monitor your child’s tooth care routine until you’ve established they’ve got it down. You should use an infant brush in the very early stages. An infant brush has soft bristles and a small head, designed specifically to be gentle on a baby. If the toothbrush isn’t tolerable at first, use a clean, damp wash cloth to clear away harmful bacteria on the gums.
Look for toothpastes that are made especially for babies. These toothpastes are called training toothpaste and contain no fluoride. Infants and small children cannot spit, and instead will swallow the toothpaste. It is not recommended to swallow toothpaste with fluoride, so until they can appropriately spit, training toothpaste should be used.
It is best that you try to get the hang of brushing your baby’s teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning and the second one before bed after the baby had her last drink. Getting the proper position to brush your baby’s teeth can be challenging. Try lying her on your lap, face up with her head by your knees. This position should be the easiest.
When brushing, do it in small, gentle circular motions concentrating on the areas where the gums and teeth meet. When teething, the baby’s gums are very tender so make sure that you are gentle when you brush your baby’s teeth. Once you are done, be sure that they spit the excess toothpaste (if they can).
Of course, aside from daily care, it is important that you have your baby’s teeth checked by a dentist regularly. Regular check ups, in addition to daily brushing and flossing can effectively help maintain the health of our child’s teeth and gums.
What can I do before my baby’s teeth come in?
Clean your baby’s gums with a soft wash cloth before the teeth come in. Although bacteria probably won’t form on the gums, it’s difficult to tell when teeth start coming in, so you’ll want to get an early start on care and allow them to start getting used to the feeling!