Many parents become concerned about infant oral care once the first tooth erupts. But think of all the objects your infant investigates and puts in their mouth on a daily basis. You can establish a regimen of infant oral care early on, even before that first tooth sprouts. Choosing an infant toothbrush makes it easy to practice good oral care from the start.
The Importance of Infant Oral Care
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends beginning oral care as soon as your baby is born. Wipe your baby's gums with a moist, clean gauze pad or washcloth. You might be tempted to swipe your finger in their mouth to remove any leftover food or milk, particularly if your baby shies away from other objects. But babies can catch the bacteria that cause cavities through the exchange of fluids with their mother, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. This can start the process of cavity development even before the teeth erupt.
Selecting an Infant Toothbrush
Tooth decay and cavities can develop as soon as the first tooth appears, making it imperative to develop an appropriate baby oral care routine.
The ADA advises parents to begin brushing their child's teeth with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush. Infant and toddler toothbrushes are commonly made with extra-soft bristles to avoid irritating your baby's tender gums. Other features to consider when choosing an infant toothbrush might include:
Size and ShapeOpt for a brush that fits comfortably in your child's mouth. Infant and toddler toothbrushes should usually have a smaller, slightly rounder head.
HandleSelect a toothbrush that's easy for your growing baby to grab so they can practice dexterity. Look for a chunkier handle with a no-slip grip to help your child get used to holding and using the toothbrush.
Electric ToothbrushesThese can be a fun way to encourage your growing and curious child to brush twice daily. They often come with fun perks like music or themes. Pick one with a favorite cartoon character, for instance, to entice your child to practice good oral care.
Teething BrushesOther options like teething toothbrushes and finger toothbrushes can get your baby accustomed to brushing and soothe their sore gums. You can even place these brushes in the refrigerator for added relief for your baby's irritated gums.
When to Incorporate Toothpaste
The ADA recommends using toothpaste when the first tooth appears. For children younger than 3 years old, use a smear of fluoride toothpaste (approximately the size of a grain of rice).
Schedule your baby's first dental appointment as soon as the first tooth erupts. During that initial visit, the dentist will evaluate your child's mouth and teeth development. They will provide guidance on the best toothbrush and toothpaste to use.
No matter your age, brushing twice daily is one of the most effective means of guarding against tooth decay. You can give your child the best start by establishing this routine as soon as possible with the right toddler toothbrush in hand.