Babies are complicated; every single new parent will tell you that! Fortunately, fantastic resources are available to help you navigate new parenthood. From information about everything from car seats to breastfeeding, there are books and websites that have the info you’re looking for.
However, one topic seems to fall short in terms of available resources: brushing baby’s teeth. You might think clean baby teeth is an irrelevant topic since babies don’t have teeth for a while, but think again! Brushing baby’s teeth is important to the overall health of your infant and for developing good habits as they grow.
Baby teeth care can be quick and simple, and we have tons of products that can help you get those shiny clean baby teeth. That little toothless grin is precious now but wait until those tiny teeth start popping up. You won’t even know how to handle the cuteness!
Why Is Brushing Baby’s Teeth Important?
Brushing baby’s teeth protects the teeth from damage, gets your baby used to oral care, and, most importantly: clean baby teeth help prevent bacteria from entering the immune system.
Babies put everything in their mouth, and that is a very common source of infection, but clean baby teeth can help prevent that. Proper baby teeth care helps keep all the bad bacteria away, keeping your child safer.
When Should I Start Brushing Baby’s Teeth?
Many experts say that you should start brushing baby’s teeth as soon as the first tooth pokes through. Most babies get a bottom tooth first around five to seven months old. While that’s true, there are many other ways that you can prepare for baby teeth care.
Keeping baby’s tongue and gums clean is important to baby teeth care, even before they eat solids or have chompers. Early on in newborn care, try to wipe out your baby’s mouth with a piece of gauze or a soft, clean washcloth. This helps ensure the sugars from their milk don’t irritate the gums or cause any future problems.
Around four to five months of age, you may want to start introducing toothbrushes and other baby teeth care products. You don’t have to use them at first; just give them to baby to hold and explore so they become more familiar with the products. This will help ease any apprehension they may have once you're ready to start brushing baby’s teeth.
What Are Some Baby Teeth Care Products for Beginners?
There are dozens of products out there to help you clean baby’s teeth. As it can often be with infant care, choosing the right ones can be confusing! We have narrowed down the search to five of our favorite products for clean baby teeth:
- Mushie Finger Toothbrushes
- Jack n’ Jill Tooth and Gum Brush
- Mushie Star Training Toothbrush
- Jack n’ Jill Natural Toothpaste
- Jack n’ Jill Silicone Toothbrush
Benefits of Finger Toothbrushes for Clean Baby Teeth
Finger toothbrushes are one of the easiest ways to clean baby’s teeth. As the name implies, you simply fit the brush over your pointer finger and use it to clean out baby’s mouth. The bumps and grooves on the ones linked above can help with sore gums from teething, too. This is not a product for baby to use independently; adult use is required to avoid choking hazards.
Tooth and Gum Brush for Older Babies
The tooth and gum brush from Jack n’ Jill is not your typical baby toothbrush; it boasts a unique semi-circle shape with grooved sides. This brush is perfect for efficiently swiping across the gums of an angry baby. The mouthpiece is larger than most, getting the job done very quickly and saving your sanity!
Anti-Choking Star Training Toothbrush
Mushie’s training toothbrush is a great pick for when you first introduce the idea of cleaning baby's teeth. Having a tool that your baby can hold and handle themselves is a great way to introduce a new care task.
The star on this brush prevents it from going into the mouth too far, so baby can safely explore this toothbrush without a choking risk. Do note that supervision is still the safest way to use this tool.
Using Natural Toothpaste for Brushing Baby’s Teeth
Children do not understand the concept of spitting things out until they are several years old. Whatever you put in your baby’s mouth is probably going to get swallowed, at least partially.
We love the natural toothpaste from Jack n’ Jill for this very reason! There is no danger whatsoever for little ones to swallow small amounts of this toothpaste. It also comes in several yummy flavors that will entice your child to keep up that oral hygiene!
Your Child’s First Independent Toothbrush
The silicone toothbrush linked above is a great option for when your child is finally able to do some brushing independently. There is an optional safety shield for smaller children, ensuring they will not put the toothbrush too far back in their mouths. Once they fully understand safe tooth brushing, you can remove the shield, and they can be independent.
How To Start Brushing Baby’s Teeth
Starting the process of baby teeth care can be daunting, especially since new teeth often cause pain, inflammation, and a grumpy baby. Brushing baby’s teeth doesn’t have to be scary for anyone.
Here are our top 3 tips for starting baby teeth care:
- Start early and often
- Incorporate pretend play.
- Lead by example
Starting Baby Teeth Care Early
Don’t wait too long to introduce baby teeth care products into your routine. As babies age, new things can be scary and feel intrusive. If baby teeth care products are introduced and normalized before you really need them, your baby is much less likely to be afraid and resistant once it becomes necessary.
Using Your Imagination for Brushing Baby’s Teeth
Children love playing pretend, and incorporating imaginative play into everyday activities is a great way to boost their imagination and cognitive function. Try making up games that incorporate brushing baby’s teeth. For little babies, use the toothbrush with a game of peekaboo or make up a new nursery rhyme about cleaning baby teeth.
For toddlers, this could be as simple as playing dentist! You could easily use some of the tools from this Dentist Playset to introduce the idea of the dentist. Have your child be the dentist and practice on you, then switch. This activity and other pretend play with brushing baby’s teeth will normalize the activity.
Model Good Oral Hygiene
One of the most effective strategies to get your kids to do something is to do it yourself! Babies and children love imitating the adults in their life, so make sure they see you taking care of your teeth. If their parents seem to enjoy it, they will want to try it. Don’t be afraid to talk it up and act like it’s really fun for you!
When Should Baby See a Dentist?
Though babies will develop some teeth earlier than this, the first dental visit should happen around one year of age. The first dental visit can be really scary for children and might be a bit traumatizing to parents, but it’s important to get it done. Three tips for preparing for the first visit to the dentist are:
- Talk about it
- Bring baby with you
- Visit a pediatric dentist
Bring Up the Dentist in Conversation
The easiest way to normalize something is by talking about it often! Whenever you find yourself brushing your teeth, talk about your friend, the dentist. Tell your child all about the cool, big chair at the dentist, the special tools they get to see, and all the exciting ways to learn about their teeth.
Exposing Baby to the Dentist
It’s a great idea to schedule your own dental visit around the time of your baby’s first visit. Once they see their mom or dad sitting in that chair, it won’t seem so scary. Most dentists will allow children to sit on their parent’s lap and observe. Many will also let kids hold and explore some of the instruments!
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important. Though family dental offices will see children, it might be best to take your baby to a pediatric dentist. Their offices have toys and books and are generally more kid-friendly. Their staff members are specially trained to treat children, so your chance of success is already much higher.
Teething and Clean Baby Teeth
Clean baby teeth and teething are very closely related, and you should know how to tell when your baby is teething to get ahead of the game. Babies will often start teething far before their teeth actually break through, and many little ones experience pain and illness because of it.
Some typical signs of teething include excessive drooling, chewing and biting things, and generally feeling unwell. Your baby’s body is working hard to go through big developmental milestones, and unfortunately, it can wreak a bit of havoc on their wellness.
Once you notice your baby is beginning to teethe, start stocking up on products and supplies to start brushing baby’s teeth. It can be a chaotic time, but being prepared beforehand is the best way to start proper baby teeth care.
How Baby Teeth Care Can Affect Feeding
Feeding is one of the most important aspects of your baby’s care, and clean baby teeth are very important to support healthy feeding habits. If proper baby teeth care protocol is not followed, they may experience feeding issues.
When you begin brushing baby’s teeth, remember that a lot of it is to keep their gums healthy and prevent infection. If a gum or tooth infection were to develop due to a lack of proper baby teeth care, it’s unlikely that feeding will be comfortable for them.
When Should I Floss Baby’s Teeth?
You will be pleased to know that to keep up with cleaning baby’s teeth, you don’t have to start flossing until they have two teeth that are directly adjacent to each other. Brushing baby’s teeth may seem difficult enough, but flossing takes it to another level!
Just as you may do with brushing baby’s teeth, it might be beneficial to start talking about and exploring the idea of flossing before it’s necessary. Make sure your child watches you floss and understands why you do it. There are lots of kid-friendly flossing products in fun colors to encourage them!
Incorporating Brushing Baby’s Teeth into Your Routine
Routine is everything when it comes to childcare. Little ones thrive on routine and structure, and incorporating baby teeth care is no exception. Since you want to aim to be brushing baby’s teeth twice a day, come up with a morning and evening routine for the whole process.
Around three or four activities back-to-back will help them get used to a new routine. A morning routine could simply include a diaper change, immediately brushing baby’s teeth, and then singing a certain song (maybe about clean baby teeth!) to go with it all.
For their evening routine, try singing a goodnight song, brushing baby’s teeth, reading a book, then immediately putting them in their pajamas and sleep sack. Your baby will begin to associate all the activities, and not only will it help them stick to habits in the future, but it will also help to create a smoother day or night.
Common Baby Teeth Care Problems
As with anything else, you may run into some problems with baby teeth care. One common problem with trying to keep those baby teeth clean is that baby simply does not like having anything in their mouth they didn’t put there! This is why introducing baby teeth care products early is imperative.
Another typical issue with baby teeth care is the new taste or texture of toothpaste. Clean baby teeth don’t require a ton of toothpaste, and it’s okay to start without it! Start with just a little water on the toothbrush to introduce the action. Hopefully, baby will be used to the tools once you introduce the toothpaste, and it will be less of an issue.
Finally, a common problem with brushing baby’s teeth is that they crave independence but letting them do it alone may not lead to clean baby teeth. We suggest that you let baby brush your teeth, too! Perhaps brush your teeth and theirs first yourself, then have them “check your work” by doing it again. Making it a challenge or game is a great hack!
Clean Baby Teeth – The Bottom Line
Having clean baby teeth is more important than just being a cosmetic issue. Not properly caring for baby teeth can lead to future gingivitis, cavities, and even rotting adult teeth. Clean baby teeth are a requirement to keep your little one happy, healthy, and safe.