Ask a Dentist – When do I Need to Start Brushing My Baby’s Teeth?

dental hygiene. happy little girl brushing her teeth

As parents, we know to brush our own teeth twice a day, but as babies develop their teeth at different times, it can be hard to know when and how we should start brushing baby’s teeth – so we asked a dentist!

Baby’s First Teeth

There is a wide range of normal for a baby’s tooth development. Some babies are born with all of their baby teeth, others don’t start teething until after they are 1 year old.

Most babies start teething around 6-9 months of age.

Contact your dentist if your baby doesn’t have all 20 of their baby teeth by the time they are 3 years old.

As soon as baby teeth appear, it’s important to start brushing them twice daily – even if they aren’t eating solids yet. Keeping them clean is essential to avoid plaque build-up and decay. You don’t need to start with a toothbrush right away – some parents find it easier to start using a washcloth or muslin cloth and a little water. While cleaning, be sure to reach the surface of every tooth, including the back.

Once your child has several teeth, start using a soft-bristled children’s toothbrush to gently but thoroughly clean the each surface of their teeth.

As your baby grows older, be careful to only offer fruit juice, soft drink or other sugary drinks in limited amounts to avoid tooth decay.

Should I use toothpaste with my baby?

You can start using a low-flouride toothpaste with babies from 12 months. It’s important to choose a toothpaste that is specifically for children, and to only use a smear of toothpaste – an amount the size of a grain of rice. Whilst fluoride is important in small amounts for preventing tooth decay, too much exposure to fluoride in children can cause dental fluorosis which leads to staining on adult teeth.

My baby/toddler hates brushing their teeth. How can I make it fun?

It’s important to make tooth brushing fun right from the start. Try including your child when you brush your teeth, talking to them about what you’re doing and singing songs.

As they grow older, some toddlers are reluctant to open their mouth for tooth brushing – it can help to sing songs or make silly faces with them to encourage this. Although it’s important to brush your baby or toddler’s teeth yourself to make sure they are thoroughly cleaned, don’t hesitate to let them practice and brush your teeth together as a family. It can also help to encourage your child to brush their teddy or doll’s teeth before they go to bed, so they see it as a fun part of a normal routine.

Be careful not to talk about the dentist being scary or painful with children – these days, it never should be, and it’s important children look forward to their visit with the dentist and listen carefully to their advice to set up a lifetime of good oral health.

At what age does my baby need to go to the dentist?

Book your child an appointment with a dentist in Penrith after they get their first tooth or when they turn 1 year old, whichever comes first.

At your baby’s first visit, your dentist will:

  • Have a thorough look at your baby’s teeth;
  • Discuss with you how to care of your baby’s teeth and demonstrate brushing technique;
  • Discuss what to expect for your child’s tooth development;
  • Discuss the use of dummies or thumb sucking to protect your child’s orthodontic development;
  • Provide advice on the best food and drinks for your child’s oral health.

Seeing the dentist is fun! Your child will enjoy taking a ride on the dental chair and getting their own toothbrush!

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