Happy mother teaching her baby how to bush teeth

Brushing Baby's Teeth: How To Get Started

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Parenting is a fun and beautiful experience! With that comes the responsibility of caring for this little bundle of joy: feeding, burping, changing, sleeping, and repeating. As your child begins to grow you’ll notice slight changes to your baby’s mouth and likely their behavior as well. They might fuss a little more and begin to chew on things. Those are signs that your baby's teeth are coming in. The sooner you start caring for your baby's teeth, the better chance of thwarting off any signs of tooth decay and cavities.

Why Baby Teeth are Important

You may not realize it, but the importance of baby teeth can't be understated. Baby teeth help your child with:

  • Speaking
  • Smiling
  • Chewing
  • Space holding

Space holding is likely the most important aspect of caring for your baby’s teeth early on. While your child’s teeth start filling in, they are in fact reserving a space in the jaw for their future permanent adult teeth. However, suppose a baby tooth is lost prematurely. In that case, the adult tooth might drift where it shouldn't, leading to overcrowding and a crooked smile. It is likely the baby tooth was lost due to decay and cavities. At a young age, cavities can be quite painful for your little one. No parent wants that! This makes it all the more important to perform good oral care from the time they're infants. Plus, daily brushing and watching their sugar intake will help. It's never too early to be healthy!

When Does Teething Begin

Teething is one of the first recognizable signs of growth with your baby. You'll most likely experience the baby's irritability from the discomfort of teething well before you actually see any teeth pop out. The ADA says you might see them start erupting anywhere from 6 months to 1 year. By the time their third birthday rolls around, they should have a full smile of all 20 baby teeth. A baby teething chart can also help make sure all of their teeth come in as they should. Typical teething symptoms include:

  • Frequent drooling
  • Fussiness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble sleeping

Teething can be a stressful time however, these tips will help get everyone through the teething stage. If your child experiences a fever, diarrhea, or rash while teething, you should speak to your pediatrician.

Brushing Baby's Teeth

Their baby teeth are a huge factor in their oral health. However, before their pearly whites erupt, their gums should also be cared for. The ADA recommends that simply wiping their gums with a wet washcloth or gauze can do a number on any plaque buildup. Once their teeth erupt, you should:

  • Use a soft-bristled baby toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste after eating and before bed, and remember to clean between their teeth when 2 teeth touch
  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a grain of rice for children younger than 3-years-old
  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a pea for children 3 to 6 years old
  • Brush (back and forth and in circles) both morning and night (for 2 minutes) and try to make it as fun as possible, so your child grows up enjoying brushing

It is recommended to take your child to the dentist when they turn 1 or when their first tooth pops out. Proper brushing with fluoride, cleaning between teeth, regular dental checkups, and a healthy diet are your baby's best friends: that and a teething ring!

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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