Wait, you have to brush their tooth!? Just when you seem to be getting this whole parenting thing down, it seems something else comes up you need to learn how to do. Thankfully, brushing baby’s teeth doesn’t have to be a complicated process.
We turned to Dr. Payal Adhikari, a board-certified pediatrician at Child and Adolescent Health Associates and expectant parents teacher at Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago, to give us the 411 on all things baby teeth. Bottom line? It’s never too early to start getting your little ones in the habit of good dental hygiene.
As always, please consult your own pediatrician with any questions.
1. No tooth, no problem (start anyway!)
As with many good habits, the earlier you start brushing baby’s teeth, the easier it will be incorporated into their routine. As soon as you get into the groove of being a parent, start to wipe the gums with a soft bristle brush or washcloth before bedtime. If they don’t like it, keep trying! They’ll eventually get the hang of it.
2.When to start brushing baby’s teeth? How often? And how much?
When the first tooth arrives, it’s time to brush with toothpaste. To start, use a finger brush or an infant brush with a smear of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice – and yes, you can use fluoride!)Brush before bed and in the morning – Milk is high in sugars, so it’s important to clean it off before they go to sleep – Twice a day keeps the cavities away!
3. The fluoride vs. fluoride-free debate
Encourage independence. As soon as your child can “brush their own teeth,” let them practice first with some fluoride-free toothpaste. After they’ve finished, go over their work with the “smear” of fluoride toothpaste. Once they can rinse and spit, you can let them use the fluoride toothpaste on their own.
4. Make it fun!
Let your child choose their toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. If timing works, brush your teeth with your child so they can learn by example. You can also let them “help” you brush your teeth to make them more comfortable with the process!
5. Going to the dentist.
Teething usually occurs between 4 and 15 months, but it can be even later! Kids should start seeing the dentist when their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday – whichever comes first. Make sure the dentist is comfortable seeing kiddos to make the experience easiest for all!
And how to do it!
Dr. Payal Adhikari’s recommends starting with a finger brush like the Summer Infant Finger Toothbrush ($2.99) and then graduating to the Oral B Soft Bristle Toothbrushes ($2.99) — they have plenty of characters to choose from!
As for toothpaste, Tom’s offers a great Fluoride Free Toddler Training toothpaste ($3.49). When they’re ready for a fluoride toothpaste, they can just use whatever you use.
For more information, check out http://www.mychildrensteeth.org/