The list of things to learn as a parent can be daunting.
That’s especially true if you’re a first-time parent.
Dressing, diaper changes, breastfeeding, and sleep schedules can be difficult but they’re all expected.
Many new parents are taken off guard by some of the less expected things they have to learn when they have a baby.
Brushing your baby’s teeth might not be on your radar of things that have to be done.
It might surprise you to learn that you have to clean your baby’s teeth.
Oral health is very important for your little one.
But don’t worry. Having to brush your child’s teeth shouldn’t intimidate you, and we’ll help you to navigate the subject.
Keep reading for some information and tips on when and how to start brushing baby teeth.
Should I clean my newborn’s mouth?
Before your baby even has that first tooth, you should think about cleaning her mouth every day.
Bacteria are always present and if the mouth isn’t cleaned, they can build up.
This can lead to dental or health problems later on.
It’s just as important to clean the gums as it is to clean the baby’s teeth.
When to start brushing baby gums
Baby gums start to gather bacteria right away. This means that you should also start to wash them right away.
There are several reasons to do this:
- To prevent build-up of bacteria.
- To get your baby used to the feeling of her teeth being brushed.
- To get into the habit of brushing your child’s teeth early.
As soon as your baby is born, you’ll need to get into a routine of cleaning her mouth.
How do I clean my newborn’s mouth and teeth?
The bad news is, brushing baby teeth isn’t the same as brushing adult teeth. This means you’ll need to learn some new techniques.
The good news is, the techniques are easy.
Here are some simple things you might need to brush baby teeth:
- Baby toothbrush
- Your finger
- Non-fluoride toothpaste
- Finger brush
When your baby is brand new, you can use a very simple technique to take care of her oral hygiene.
Simply take a wet washcloth or finger brush and gently rub it over her gums. You might like to incorporate this as part of your nightly bath time routine.
When should I brush my baby’s teeth at night?
Ideally, you should always brush the baby’s teeth after she eats.
This will set her up for good oral care.
Start by brushing with a washcloth only, at bath time. This is a good way to get used to washing your baby’s gum line in the early days.
You’re already overwhelmed during this stage, so getting into the habit of washing your baby’s gums at bath time will:
- Create a routine.
- Get you used to cleaning your baby’s gum line.
- Help you to learn the techniques while baby is already safely in the tub.
The great thing about it is it’s quick and easy!
How to clean baby teeth naturally
When a baby is very young, it’s fairly easy to clean her body.
Most parents simply prop the baby in a baby tub and use a washcloth.
This is an ideal time to get used to making good oral care just another aspect of hygiene that you pay attention to.
It can get you into the habit of paying attention to brushing baby’s teeth later on.
It also has the bonus of seeing her mouth regularly, so you can notice:
- Any problems, such as tongue-tie
- Any changes, such as teeth starting to pop up
Keeping up your baby’s dental care is a useful tool for discovering any problems she might have in this area.
When to start cleaning baby teeth
When your baby is brand new and the first tooth hasn’t yet come through, you can get started by cleaning her gums.
Simply wet a washcloth, gauze pad, or finger brush, and gently clean around the gums, to remove bacteria and prevent bacteria build-up.
If doing this bothers her, make sure you’re being very gentle; this area is soft and she’s not yet used to the feeling.
If cleaning more softly still bothers her, you might want to:
- Ask your healthcare provider to check for any problems, such as tongue-tie
- See the dentist to make sure your baby’s gums look okay
A dentist might be able to give you some tips on how to clean your baby’s gums in a way that doesn’t bother her.
How should I brush a baby’s primary teeth that have just started to appear?
Babies are on their own schedules in terms of tooth growth and even teething symptoms.
Baby teeth should start to appear in a baby’s first year of life; the first baby tooth usually appears around 6 months of age, around the time of starting to eat solids.
The good news is, even when the first baby tooth appears, cleaning is still super easy.
Nature even helps you out.
When teeth start to pop through, a baby will naturally want to chew on something.
Did you know you can buy teething toothbrushes?
A teething toothbrush looks like a regular teether, but the end is shaped like a brush.
This means that babies can clean their own baby teeth without even knowing it.
When should I brush baby teeth?
Teething toothbrushes are a fantastic way to get started.
However, don’t rely on them as the only way to clean your baby’s teeth.
Once you’ve mastered the bathtub washcloth technique, it’s a good idea to move on to cleaning the mouth at least twice a day.
At first, stick with the washcloth.
Then, when your baby begins to grow that first tooth, move to a toddler toothbrush.
Toddler toothbrushes have these benefits:
- The bristles are soft
- The head is small enough to fit into the mouth
- The handle is large.
Make sure the toothbrushes you select can fit comfortably into your baby’s mouth.
How do I brush a baby’s first teeth?
When your baby’s first tooth has popped through, you can put some non-fluoride toothpaste on the toothbrush.
It’s suggested that you use only a tiny amount of toothpaste for a baby. In the first year, it only needs to be about the size of a grain of rice.
Then, until about age 3, you only need to put on a pea-sized amount.
Make sure you’re using a special non-fluoride children’s toothpaste.
There are usually fun flavor options, so if your baby doesn’t like the one you’re using, try another flavor.
Is milk before bed bad for teeth?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively up to the age of six months.
This means babies are likely to drink breast milk right before bed. Remember to clean baby’s teeth after the last feed before bed.
When should I arrange dental care?
It’s a good idea to get your baby a dentist appointment around the age of 1.
At this visit, the dentist can give you advice for a brushing routine.
These are some of the benefits of an appointment around this time:
- Your baby’s dental hygiene can be checked
- The dentist can look for any existing or upcoming problems
- The dentist can give you tips for brushing
- Any concerns can be raised
- You can get into the habit of getting your child to the dentist regularly.
At this appointment, you can get advice about whether or not you’re going in the right direction with your child’s oral health.
When should children brush their own teeth?
Even a baby can hold a teether and chew on it to improve her dental health and get used to toothbrushes.
When your baby becomes a toddler, you can play games to make her more responsible for doing the job on her own.
Children – even toddlers – should be able to take care of their own oral health by brushing their teeth with a smear of toothpaste.
At first, you can help your child to brush her teeth.
Your child will soon get the hang of tooth brushing. You can then encourage her by showing her how you brush and making it fun.
Going shopping together for a brush and non-fluoride toothpaste can make this step enjoyable for kids.
Children aren’t old enough to brush their own teeth until they can:
- Grip the toothbrush strongly
- Clean every one of their teeth
- Apply toothpaste to the brush appropriately
- Spit it out after their teeth are brushed
Once these steps are met, you can likely trust your child to brush her own teeth.
You might be surprised that your child can take care of her own tooth brushing and oral health at a younger age than you’d expect.
You can improve your child’s dental health, and reduce the likelihood of tooth problems, such as tooth decay and gum disease, by encouraging tooth brushing after eating food, especially those containing sugars.