When your baby starts growing their first tooth - it is recommended to start brushing their teeth as soon as the tooth becomes visible. It is important to keep your baby’s teeth healthy from day one, so here is a quick guide on how to look after your baby’s teeth…
Baby and Toddler Toothbrushes
To begin with, it may be easier to clean your baby’s teeth with a piece of clean cloth on your finger. For ease, I would recommend using a finger toothbrush made out of silicone, as this may be easier to control.
When your baby gets a little older and it is time to purchase their first ever toothbrush, buy one that is specifically for young children - preferably one with a small head and soft bristles. It is important to change their toothbrush every three months or when the bristles begin to fall out or splay. Babies usually have the tendency to chew the head of a toothbrush so you may end up replacing their toothbrush more often than that!
At Matchstick Monkey, our Original Teething Toy can be used as a pre-training toothbrush. The toothbrush like bumps on the back can help get children used to the motion of brushing teeth and the feeling of rubbing something over the gums.
Baby and Toddler Toothpaste
When it comes to brushing your child’s teeth - you should pick a specific kid’s toothpaste as adult toothpastes might contain too much fluoride. You should only use a tiny smear of toothpaste for babies and toddlers up to three years old. Once a child reaches ages 3-6, use a pea-sized amount.
How to brush your baby’s teeth, and how often
For babies, sit them on your knee and rest their head against your chest while you brush their teeth. As they get a little older, stand behind them and tilt their head backwards. When brushing your baby’s teeth, make sure to brush in small circles, covering all the surfaces.
It is important to encourage them to spit the toothpaste out afterwards, however, there is no need to rinse their mouth with water as this will wash away the fluoride. It is also important to supervise your child while brushing their teeth, watch out for them licking or eating any toothpaste from the tube.
Help - My baby won’t have their teeth brushed
As a parent, I know how difficult it can be to brush a child’s teeth when they aren’t keen on brushing their teeth. Here are some of my top tips:
- Let them hold the toothbrush: A child will feel more comfortable and in control if they can hold the toothbrush - which may make them want to brush their teeth more often.
- Brush your teeth with them: As a parent, I always set example for my kids - so why not brush your teeth with them? I would suggest asking your child to copy you or even to have a competition as to who can brush their teeth the best, as this will encourage those children who are that little bit competitive! Aquafresh even has a fun app that makes brushing teeth fun! You can check it out here.
- Watch out for wriggling: It is important to supervise your children when brushing their teeth, as a toothbrush can be extremely dangerous if a child sticks the toothbrush down their throat or falls forward whilst brushing their teeth, so keep a close eye on them.
- Don’t stress: Some babies aren’t going to be that receptive to having their teeth brushed at first - so don’t be worrying too much. The important thing is making teeth brushing part of their routine.
When do I need to start taking my baby to the dentist?
Even though you are a parent, you still have your own appointments to attend. When you next visit the dentist, I would recommend taking your baby along with you so that they can check your baby’s teeth - as well as signing them up for their own appointments as soon as they start teething. The great thing is that your baby will get free NHS dental treatment, so the sooner a baby gets used to the dentist, the more comfortable they will be.
Sugar and Tooth Decay
It is important to note that sugar causes tooth decay. When a baby eats something sugary, it is about how long and how often their little teeth are in contact with sugar.
Sweet drinks and lollipops in a formula bottle can be very damaging for a baby’s teeth as the sugar bathes in their teeth for long periods of time. It is also important to remember that the acid in fruit drinks can also harm a baby’s teeth - even if you think it is good for them. Therefore, try to avoid products with added sugar for your baby.
However, the natural sugars in whole milk and fruits are less likely to cause tooth decay so you don’t need to cut down on these types of sugars.
For more information on your baby’s teeth, you can visit our blog with Dr Konviser, here.