As your baby starts growing, so will their little teeth. While you’re little one will have a tough time going through teething, they will also need to take care of their new teeth and to do that, brushing their new teeth not only takes care of them, but also builds good oral hygiene habits that will serve them now and for the rest of their lives.
But how do you get them started and teach them the right way? We decided that a handy little guide, answering some of your questions would be a good idea. Let’s get started helping them take care of those new little teeth
When Should I Start?
When you should start brushing your little one’s teeth is a major question that many first-time parents have. A good general rule of thumb is that you can start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as the first tooth pops through their gums. At first, you don’t want to use a regular toothbrush. Instead, use a clean, damp washcloth, a finger brush, or gauze pad to wipe their first teeth and the front of their tongue clean, but do so gently after meals and at bedtime.
If you do choose to use a toothbrush on their new teeth, make sure that it is moistened with water and only use a very small amount, about the size of a grain of rice, of fluoride toothpaste. The toothbrush you choose should have very soft and no more than three rows of bristles. If the toothbrush becomes rough at the edges at any point, or they are a couple of months old, toss them and purchase a new one.
Should I Brush My Baby’s Gums?
Even with soft bristles, a toothbrush may not be the best choice for cleaning your baby’s gums before they cut their first tooth. Many pediatric dentists recommend cleaning your little one’s gums after feedings which can help to fight bacterial growth and also help start to build a history of good oral health, which can last a lifetime.
To clean their soft gums effectively, try to use a soft, damp cloth or even a soft rubber or silicone finger brush which are both gentle on your child’s gums and have a texture that your baby may love the feeling of against their gums.
Is It Safe to Use A Toothpaste With Fluoride?
In the past, many pediatric dentists recommended that you should wait until your little one is 2 years old before using a toothpaste with fluoride when brushing their teeth. However, in more recent years, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) has recommended that you should start using cavity-prevention toothpaste with fluoride from the time their first tooth has erupted from their gums.
Dentists recommend using a small, rice-sized amount of toothpaste on your baby or even your toddler’s first toothbrush. Once they reach the age of 3, you can start to use more of a pea-sized amount for them to brush all of their teeth with. If they happen to swallow a bit of the toothpaste, which is likely to happen, it’s not something to worry about. The small quantity that they may ingest won’t do any damage to their new teeth. During their second year, you can teach your child to spit into the sink once they are done brushing.
Teaching Your Little One to Brush
Like anything new that your little one gets their hands on, they will likely want to try brushing his new teeth all by themselves. If they have the dexterity and isn’t getting frustrated, let them try it out to see what it’s like putting the brush in their mouth and the bristles going over their new teeth and gums. Once they have had their fill, be sure to do a follow-up cleaning that is much more thorough using either a finger brush or gauze pad before they go to bed.
Many manufacturers have started created toothbrush designs for little children made with a favorite character, a fun shape, or bright color. This can help to start and keep their interest in brushing and taking care of the little white posts appearing in their mouth. Another good tip is to let them watch you brushing your teeth. They are getting closer to the age where they will emulate everything they see. Why not have them emulate your good oral habits so they become habits for life.
This new experience is likely going to be met with hesitation and reluctance to have their teeth brushed because it creates an uncomfortable feeling or them, but eventually they will get used to having their new teeth brushed which can soothe their sore gums from teething. However, there may be situations where they don’t like the idea of having their teeth brushed at all.
What if they don’t like having their teeth brushed?
Did you really expect them to?
In these kinds of situations, your baby may repeatedly resist having their teeth brushed, which is of no surprise. Not every child is going to love having their teeth cleaned especially during those times when they are teething and their gums can be extremely sore and tender. If you’re having an experience like this, you can try to get things going if tooth-brushing can become a struggle:
Take it easy – You baby’s gums are some of the most sensitive areas on their body, even when they aren’t teething. This may cause them to reject and try to push away or avoid having their teeth brushed. When this happens, try using a soft washcloth as well as a gentle touch.
Sing Their Favorite Song – Music can have a profound effect on children. It can get them to dance, to smile, and to drift off to dreamland. For some children, singing one of their favorite songs, or humming it if you don’t know the words can act as a distraction of sorts that they can focus on while you clean their teeth. This can also work if you want to have your partner hold their favorite stuffed animal to distract your little one.
Monkey-see, Monkey-do – Your child will naturally be suspicious of why you’re trying to do this to their new tooth. But seeing mom and dad brushing their teeth every day, and enjoying it can turn into a simple game that happens during tooth-brushing time that they will want to be a part of.
Let them play – Children want to put everything that they can get their hands on, into their mouth. Their first toothbrush or finger brush is no exception. Foster their interest by letting them hold their toothbrush and check out every detail at the speed and amount of time that they want. They may even try putting it into their mouth all by herself.
How Often Should I Be Brushing Their Teeth?
Many new parents ask this question with the thought that their child is so young that they don’t need to brush their teeth more than once a day, prior to bedtime. However, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that for children below the age of three, brushing twice a day is ideal to help them develop good habits and learn how to take care of their teeth quickly and the right way, In the morning when they get up and at night, when its bedtime are the best times to brush their teeth.
What if their teeth bleed while brushing?
Bleeding while brushing is a sign of a gum infection whether they are 1 or 100 years old. If you’re brushing your child’s teeth and they are bleeding, keep an eye out for other symptoms of an infection such as inflammation or tenderness. While regular brushing should help to clear the issue up, if it persists and you see no sign of it stopping after a couple of days, you will want to take your little one to their dentist.
Can I Use Coconut Oil to Clean My Child’s Teeth?
You could argue that when it comes to whether or not you can use coconut oil to clean your child’s teeth, they are definitely differing opinions. Those who not in favor cite that it is best to use a standard toothpaste to help take care of their teeth. Medical experts have stated that the evidence showing that coconut oil is good for your baby’s teeth and that an over-the-counter toothpaste with fluoride is the best and safest option.
On the other hand, there are those that feel that using coconut oil can be beneficial to your little one’s teeth being clean. Some parents may have concerns about using toothpaste with their child so young, feeling that it’s not the safest option for them. For those parents, using coconut oil to massage their baby’s gums can help ease teething pains and improve their oral and dental hygiene.
When Should I Start Taking Them To The Dentist?
It can be tough to know when your little one should take their first trip to the dentist to get their new teeth checked out and cleaned. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as well as the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), it is recommended that you should take your little one to the dentist within six months of their first tooth erupting or by their first birthday, whichever occurs first.
Prior to the first visit, however, when you take your little one to their check-up appointments at their doctor, they should be checking their newly formed teeth and applying a fluoride varnish to help prevent cavities. Now, this should be applied every three to six months, depending on their risk of cavities which could be affected by a family history of cavities or poor dental health of mom while pregnant.
You do want to make sure that when you do bring your child to the dentist, that you let them know what fluoride treatments they have received from their pediatrician.
Can Breast Milk Cause Cavities?
Normally, you may read that headline and think that there is no way that breastfeeding your child, in the most natural way available could cause tooth decay or cavities in their child’s teeth, but it can.
While breastfeeding is one of the best ways for your child to get the nutrients they need that can help their body fight infections as well as reduce health risks such as asthma, ear infections, SIDS, and obesity. Breastfeeding can also benefit mom by lowering the chances of developing breast or ovarian cancer.
However, although it is natural, the breast milk that you feed your child contains sugar. Like us, that sugar can sit on their gums or their new teeth can cause cavities. That’s why it is so important to take care of your little one’s gums and teeth from the start.
Once your baby comes home from the hospital, start to get into the habit of using a clean, moist gauze pad or soft washcloth every day to gently wipe their gums clean after they’ve eaten to keep it from settling on their gums.
Once their brand new teeth emerge, use a soft toothbrush and a grain-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste to brush their teeth twice a day to help remove any breast milk that may have stayed on their teeth after feeding.
What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Not every child when they are born feeds from their mother’s breast, but this doesn’t mean that they are immune to tooth decay either. Whether it is breastmilk or formula, this can still rest on your child’s teeth once they are done being fed.
The term Baby Bottle Tooth Decay comes from the instance of tooth decay appearing in infants and toddlers who are primarily fed by or given bottles to drink from. While the decay typically occurs to their upper front teeth, it can affect other teeth as well.
While the ingestion of sugary drinks, whether it is breast milk, formula, juice, or soda can cause any kind of tooth decay if left unchecked, this type of tooth decay can occur in children that are put to bed with a bottle or are given a bottle when they are fussy.
Limiting these to appropriate times and taking adequate care of their new teeth can be extremely beneficial to them in the long run.
Do certain foods cause tooth decay in babies?
Like us, the foods that your child eats and drinks can affect their teeth and oral health. You always want to try to not serve your child sugary such as a bottle of milk, formula, juice, or sweetened liquid right before bed as the sugar can stay on their gums and teeth and cause decay and further mouth problems. For babies less than one-year-old, the AAP recommends not giving them juice at all.
Foods that can cause cavities and tooth decay in your little one’s mouth. Avoid giving these to your little one close to bedtime.
- Dried Fruit, such as raisins
- Peanut Butter and Jelly
How to protect their teeth from decay
While throughout the article, we went over what you can do to help protect your child’s gums and newly formed teeth, we wanted to put all of that information, and it can be a lot, into one area to give a concise overview of how you can protect and prevent your little one’s newly formed teeth from cavities or other decay. The tips below are good to practice, not only when they are little but for their entire life as well.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
When they are little one will want to do just about everything that you do. That includes gestures, words, and actions. This can include brushing and taking care of your teeth. If you practice good oral hygiene, brushing and flossing every morning and night, your little one will see this and want to imitate what they see mommy and daddy do. Try showing your child how you take care of your teeth, the steps you take and the things you do to take care of your teeth and they will follow suit.
Teach Them The Right Way
After some time of letting them watch you brush and take care of your teeth, start having them experience what it is like to hold the toothbrush, feel the bristles in their mouth so they can get used to using it. Each day, twice a day, help them brush their teeth. Start slowly, with a very small amount of toothpaste that contains fluoride to help strengthen their teeth and let them get used to the taste of the toothpaste. It will be different, obviously, but the more you work with your child and teach them the right way, they can have a long and healthy life with strong teeth.
The third piece to ensuring that your little one’s teeth remain strong and healthy without any risk of cavities or tooth decay is to take them to regular visits to the dentist. Now, when they are about six months old, their pediatrician will give them their first oral-health risk assessment and if needed, will refer you to a pediatric dentist.
Once your child starts having more and more teeth pop up in their mouth, you will want to make sure that they go to a dentist for a thorough examination by the time they are one year of age to have healthy teeth and a great smile.