What should I know about brushing my baby's teeth?
When should I begin brushing my baby’s teeth?
I always recommend that you begin brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts. Don’t start brushing your baby’s teeth, start brushing your baby’s tooth! Because there’s only a tooth or two, it only takes a few seconds. But, it’s important to remove plaque from your baby’s teeth, and it also teaches them very early on what a toothbrush is and what it’s used for. It will quickly become part of your baby’s routine. Before long, you’ll have a three-year-old who is reminding you that you forgot to brush his teeth!
What kind of toothbrush should I use?
There’s a whole shelf full of baby toothbrushes, but simpler is usually better. I like the silicone brushes as a “toy”, but not as your baby’s real toothbrush. I always recommend a regular nylon-bristled toothbrush, similar to the one adults use but in a miniature size. I don’t feel comfortable with kids running around the house with a real toothbrush in their mouth, so if your baby wants a brush to play with I would use the silicone variety as a toothbrush toy.
What kind of toothpaste should I use?
This used to be a risk versus benefit question, and the old answer was to use fluoride toothpaste for “high-risk” babies. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to identify at such a young age who is really at high-risk for cavities. As a result, I recommend using fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth erupts. For babies, I recommend a “smear” of toothpaste – just enough to cover the tips of the bristles. The benefit of using fluoride toothpaste to strengthen enamel outweighs the risk of such a small amount of ingested fluoride toothpaste.
When it comes to fluoride toothpaste, they’re almost all created equal. Both kids and adult fluoride toothpaste contains 1000ppm fluoride. The main difference is the flavor, and some adult toothpaste contains additives for whitening, sensitivity, etc. I would recommend finding a flavor that seems pleasing to your child. Then keep it out of her reach so she doesn’t get a hold of it when you’re not looking.
When do we begin flossing?
I don’t typically recommend floss for babies. Focus on brushing twice per day with a smear of fluoride toothpaste. We’ll get to that when they get older.