As your baby’s priceless white pearls erupt, it is time to brush and care for them to ensure sound dental health, thus helping him to chew and talk with ease as he grows up.
When should you start brushing your baby’s teeth?
Most babies cut their first teeth by seven months, though it may come through as early as the fourth month or as late as the twelfth month. Brushing should begin just after their first teeth grow, but oral care should start much earlier. Massage your newborn’s gums with soft gauze or a washcloth to keep bacterial infections at bay.
How to brush your baby’s teeth?
Maintain a fixed brushing schedule twice daily, in the morning and night before bed, after nursing or bottle feeding him.
- If your baby is too small to sit properly, take him on your lap with his head reclining on your chest. For older children (above 2), make them sit on a chair with their head tilted back while you stand behind to brush.
- Place the brush at an angle of 45° to the teeth, with the bristles pointed to the meeting point of the gum and teeth [10,12].
- Brush gently in a circular motion back and forth, covering each tooth’s inner and outer surface to eradicate harmful bacteria that cause foul breath.
- Since you use a small amount of paste in the first year, rinsing with water is not essential, as leaving the fluoride helps strengthen the gums and grow teeth.
Note: Your baby will continue getting teeth till about 3 years of age when a set of twenty teeth develops. Hence, he may have teething pain, crying, and not allowing you to brush. Under such circumstances, massage with a wet washcloth, particularly in the area where the new teeth are growing.
What is the best toothpaste for babies?
Any brand of fluoride toothpaste would be a good choice as it helps fight cavities. However, it is advisable to seek a healthcare professional’s advice before selecting toothpaste.
As per the norms of several dental associations, infants below three years need to brush two times a day with about 1000 ppm (parts per million) of fluoride, while those between three and six years need more than 1000 ppm.
Applying baking soda directly or using toothpaste helps remove tooth stains. However, it is necessary to consult a medical expert regarding the same.
How much toothpaste to use?
In the beginning, the amount of paste should be no more than the size of a rice grain. For children between 3 and 6, increase the quantity to a pea-size. Take care in using only a small amount of toothpaste until your baby can rinse and spit on his own, as leaving an excessive amount of fluoride in the mouth can lead to fluorosis, resulting in white spots on his adult teeth.
Avoid toothpaste with fruity or tasty flavors as it would encourage your child to lick more of it. Swallowing increased amounts of paste damages the teeth, increasing the risk of fluorosis, besides making the little one fall sick with vomiting and diarrhea.
What toothbrush to use?
Choose a soft brush with a big handle and small head having a maximum of three rows of bristles that can easily fit into every part of his mouth. Finger brushes may also be opted for if cleaning with a big brush seems problematic. Seek assistance from a pediatric dentist or pharmacist regarding selecting a proper toothbrush for your baby.
It is necessary to replace the infant’s toothbrush every three months or even earlier if the bristles appear worn out.
Video: Brushing baby teeth
What to do if your baby won’t let you brush his teeth?
- Do not apply force. Rather, be patient and try several techniques to make him enjoy the activity.
- Divert his attention by giving him his favorite toy or humming a lullaby.
- Give him a chance to hold the brush or explore it a little so that he gradually starts to get acquainted with it.
When should you take your baby to the dentist?
According to the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and AAPD (American Academy of Pediatrics Dentistry), children should be taken to a dentist six months post their first tooth eruption or by the time they reach the age of one, whichever comes earlier.
Though most kids attempt to hold the brush by themselves near their second birthday, parents should supervise their brushing until they reach the age of six. The onus also lies on parents to teach their children to brush and educate them on the importance of doing so.
Dr. Mashiach has completed his MD at the Sackler School of Medicine, TAU; specialization in gynecology at the Lis Maternity and Women’s Hospital, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center; fellowship in Endoscopy at the Polyclinique de I’Hotel-Dieu, Universite d’Auvergne, Clermont, France.
He is a Senior Physician, Director of the Department of Gynecology, which provides routine and preventative care services to its patients and a full range of gynecological surgical procedures for adequately managing its patients with benign gynecologic disorders.
He offers advanced care in all gynecological subspecialties such as Urogynecology, Colposcopy, Fetal Loss Clinic, and Post Menopausal Clinic.