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Baby's First Teeth: Should You Use Toothpaste?

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It's so exciting when your baby's first tooth pops through his gums, and he smiles at you with that sparkling little chomper. As a parent, you should try to make dental care a pleasant experience for your baby right from the start. When your baby gets his first teeth, baby toothpaste will eventually play an important role in setting the stage for your child's later healthy dental practices, but when should you introduce your child to brushing with toothpaste?

Handle With Care

During the early stages of tooth development, be especially gentle with your baby's teeth and gums. Use a soft-bristled baby toothbrush or finger brush and a light touch when cleaning your baby's new teeth. You only need to use water at this stage - no toothpaste necessary, unless recommended by your baby's dentist. Use the toothbrush to softly massage his gums even where there are no exposed teeth. This gets your baby used to the feeling of the toothbrush in his mouth and lets him learn that brushing is a pleasant experience, not something that should be frightening or irritating.

Fluoride Needs

Toothpaste should not be used on babies younger than the age of two, because babies cannot expectorate (spit it out).

Fluoride is a good thing in the right amount at the right developmental stage, but not during infancy. Start your little one on fluoride-free infant and toddler toothpaste, such as My First Colgate, then when your dentist recommends switching to a fluoride toothpaste or when your child is around two years old.

To be certain of the right time to switch your child over to fluoride toothpaste, discuss your child's fluoride and dental care needs with your dentist or pediatrician.

Does it Taste Good?

When your child passes the infancy stage and is ready to use toothpaste, go ahead and taste your little one's new toothpaste before using it in his mouth. Look for mildly sweet toothpaste that feels soft and natural as you rub it across your gums. This taste test is helpful, because most young children do not enjoy strong flavors. That means the minty-fresh toothpaste you enjoy could make your child cringe with discomfort. Look for more kid-friendly flavors, such as bubblegum or fruit.

Treasure the Memory

After you have chosen the right toothpaste for your baby and have brushed his first teeth, be sure to take some pictures of that beautiful little toothy smile for your scrapbook or photo album. The photos turn an otherwise ordinary first teeth, baby toothpaste and fluoride experience into a treasured memory.