After all the fussiness and difficulties that come with teething, it’s so great to see those first teeth finally come in. When you see your little one smile a toothy little smile, it makes it all worth it. It’s also exciting to know that milestones like solid food and first words are now going to be just around the corner.
One thing you don’t want to overlook is taking care of those precious little teeth, which includes things like brushing and flossing. Is it ever too early to start brushing a baby’s teeth? Read this helpful guide to find out.
When Do You Start Brushing a Baby’s Teeth?
The answer is right away. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, parents can and should start brushing as soon as the first tooth comes in. This may seem early, but there are several reasons why it’s a good idea.
First, plaque can start to build up on the surface of the tooth and cause decay. Even though the teeth will come out eventually, babies need healthy teeth to learn to eat solid foods. It’s critical to take good care of those baby teeth from day one.
Another key reason is to start developing good habits for oral hygiene right away. Establishing a brushing routine when the first tooth comes helps your little one get used to the sensation of a toothbrush in his or her mouth. This can make it easier down the road when they are older and more aware, and eventually make it easier to teach them to brush for themselves.
How to Brush a Baby’s Teeth
When the first tooth comes in, you can start to brush twice a day to prevent plaque buildup and tooth decay. Dentists recommend taking the following steps:
- Use a small, soft-bristled brush.
- Apply a very small amount of child’s toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice.
- Gently brush in a circular motion for one to two minutes.
As children get older you can begin to apply more toothpaste and start to teach them how to brush their own teeth.
Brushing Tips for Fussy and Reluctant Babies
Of course, brushing a baby’s teeth can very often be easier said than done. Some babies are just more sensitive about what goes in their mouth, don’t like the taste of toothpaste, or they are simply just not having it.
By staying calm and following some of these simple tips, you can make brushing your little one’s teeth more fun and enjoyable:
- Create a routine and brush at the same time every morning and evening.
- Play fun, relaxing music to set a good mood.
- If two adults are present, sit with knees touching and your baby’s head in one lap and their feet in the other lap.
- Use one hand to gently open your baby’s mouth and the other to use the toothbrush while the other adult holds their hands and distracts and soothes your little one.
- Normalize brushing by brushing your teeth in front of your child, or pretending to brush the teeth of their favorite stuffed animal or toy.
- Read books about brushing teeth.
- As children get older, they can pick out fun toothbrushes and flavors of toothpaste to make it even more fun.
While it is important to prevent tooth decay for those first teeth, it’s also important to establish good habits and make it a positive experience.
Keeping Baby Teeth Healthy, and When to See a Dentist
Oral health for baby teeth goes beyond brushing twice a day. You should also begin flossing as soon as they have two teeth in a row. Use plastic flossers for babies and toddlers before moving on to standard floss.
It’s also important to limit sugar intake once your child has moved on to solid foods. The bacteria that cause tooth decay love sugar, so it’s important to minimize sugary snacks and drinks. Parents should also avoid bottles with milk or juice before bedtime or naptime.
Pediatric dentists also recommend starting dental examinations as soon as that tooth comes in to make sure the teeth are developing healthy and strong. This also helps your little one get used to the dentist at a young age to make it as normal and fun an experience as possible. What’s more, your dentist can give you additional oral hygiene and brushing tips to help you at home.
Keep Your Family’s Teeth Healthy with the Help of AC Pediatric Dentistry
Going to the dentist can be scary — we get it. But it should be fun! Whether it’s care for baby teeth, big kid teeth, oral surgery, or orthodontics, our team of specialized pediatric dentists make the experience memorable while teaching you how to encourage healthy habits and good hygiene for lifelong smiles. Call us today or request an appointment online. We can’t wait to meet you!