Brushing Baby's Teeth And Gums

Your baby doesn’t yet have teeth so you shouldn’t have to worry about his hygiene, right? Not so fast. Maintaining a healthy mouth for baby starts sooner than you think.

Mom brushing her baby's teeth

What’s the big deal about baby teeth?

Since they are going to fall out anyway, you may not see the importance of a diligent oral healthcare routine for baby. But it sets the stage for a lifetime dedication to oral hygiene. Plus, baby teeth are the place markers for the adult teeth… without them baby’s permanent teeth can get misaligned.

Gentle gum care

Before baby ever begins to cut a tooth, begin routine care of his mouth by wiping down his gums at least twice a day (particularly before bedtime and after feedings) using a moistened soft cloth or small piece of gauze. Do not use toothpaste on baby’s gums. In fact, you do not need to use toothpaste until baby is at least one year old.

Even though baby doesn’t have teeth, wiping down the gums prevents plaque from building up on the gums then damaging the teeth as they cut through the gums. It also serves as an introduction to routine oral care.

When the first teeth pop up

As baby starts to cut his first tiny chompers, switch from the cloth or gauze to a very soft bristled toothbrush with a small head that is designed for infant mouths or try a soft “thimble” style brush that you put on your finger to brush baby’s teeth. Continue this routine with just water.

Make it fun

Later on, your child’s dentist will likely recommend he brush for two minutes twice a day. Think of an easy nursery rhyme or make up your own little tune that lasts for about two minutes and sing it to baby as you brush his teeth in infancy. As he gets older, he can “replay” the song in his head as he does his own brushing.

Toddler teeth-brushing tips

Once baby is old enough, give him some responsibility when it comes to caring for his teeth. Let him help select a toothbrush (with those aforementioned soft bristles and small head) – a large-handled one will help him get a grip on it as he navigates it around his mouth.

Let him choose the toothpaste (that you approve of, naturally) but make sure that it is a non-fluoridated toothpaste, and only use a pea-sized drop on the brush. Do not introduce fluoride toothpaste until baby is at least two.

To ensure a healthy mouth for your little one, you’ll need to oversee and assist baby in brushing until he is able to brush all sides of all of his teeth, rinse and spit without help.

More baby care

The ABCs of bathing baby
Gentle ways to encourage your baby to sleep
Step-by-step guide: Diapering your baby

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