A mother teaching baby how to brush teeth

Baby's First Teeth: Should You Use Toothpaste?

Your baby's first tooth: so adorable, so perfect. Realizing it's your job to keep that tooth and all your child's teeth as perfect as possible, you might wonder: When should I start brushing my baby's teeth with toothpaste?

Your instincts are right to start dental care as soon as possible. This will set the stage for your child's later healthy dental practices. But you'll want to start gently. We'll give you a baby toothpaste primer and other tips for keeping your little one's teeth in perfect condition.

Baby's First "Toothpaste": Water

When your baby's mouth is just a gummy smile, begin practicing good oral health habits on your tot's gums. You won't use a toothbrush or paste yet – just clear water and a piece of clean, soft gauze to "brush" away bacteria. Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Wrap the gauze around your pointer finger and dip it in water.
  2. Gently rub the gauze along your baby's gums at least once per day to remove bacteria.

If your baby starts eating solid foods without teeth, do the gauzed-finger and water procedure after each meal.

First Tooth: Handle with Care

As soon as that first precious tooth pops out, your baby is ready for real brushing to keep away plaque. Here's your getting-started checklist:

  • Start with fluoridated baby toothpaste. This usually says on the box that it's for "ages 0-2," so it's okay for babies 1-year-old and younger.
  • Get a toothbrush made especially for babies' mouths with extra soft bristles.
  • Gently brush twice a day using a teeny rice-sized sliver of toothpaste. (Keep in mind that your baby won't be able to spit out the toothpaste.)
  • Schedule baby's first dentist visit.
  • Discuss your baby's oral health care routine with your dental professionals during the first visit.

By using a baby toothbrush, you'll begin getting your little darling used to the feeling of a brush in the mouth. If you combine brushing with silly songs and fun games, your child will learn that brushing is a pleasant experience – not one to be avoided.

Fluoride and Toothpaste Tips for Baby Brushing

When you start brushing your infant's teeth with fluoride toothpaste, you'll want to guard against dental fluorosis. The condition occurs when a young child ingests too much fluoride before their adult teeth erupt. This, in turn, causes white or brown discoloration or spots on permanent teeth enamel.

We all know fluoride is essential in preventing tooth decay, which can start early. So, how do you prevent fluorosis and still provide your baby with a toothpaste that's good and good for them? Here are some tips:

Go Small: It's worth re-emphasizing that when you brush your baby's teeth, use only a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste – the size of a grain of rice.

Be Age-Appropriate: Ensure your baby's toothpaste is free of artificial colors, preservatives, or sodium lauryl sulfate.

Don't Come on Strong: Most young children don't enjoy strong flavors — the minty-fresh toothpaste you might enjoy could make your child cringe. Taste your little one's new toothpaste before using it in their mouth.

Use the Power of Water: Naturally, your baby can't swish around a mouth rinse or spit out toothpaste. So, after brushing, give your baby a bottle or sippy cup of water.

Treasure the Memory

Teeth brushing is a milestone! Take some pictures and videos at every stage of maintaining your child's beautiful little smile: from "brushing" baby's gums with gauze and water to using a baby brush and fluoride toothpaste. And then, at age three and older, you can document your child brushing their own teeth!

By caring for your baby's mouth from day one, you'll begin setting them up for a lifetime of positive oral health habits. And by learning the best way to clean your infant's gums and your little sweetheart's first teeth, your children will thank you later – especially if they have a cavity-free life!

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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