So, you’ve started solids but have you asked yourself ‘When do I start brushing my baby’s teeth?’
Well, look no further than this comprehensive guide on baby and toddler dental care.
There are many stages to dental care for babies and toddlers due to the staggered eruption of baby teeth as well as the change in their diet from milk to solid foods.
Firstly, let’s look at a typical timeline for tooth eruptions by approximate age.
As you can see by the timeline, eruptions usually start around the 6 month mark and complete with a full set of twenty baby teeth by 33 months(around 2.5-3 years old).
3 months –
- Tooth care is important but let’s not forget gum care. This is a great place to start. From as young as 3 months old, it is recommended to gently wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, warm face washer or gauze pad twice a day.
4-6 months –
- At the 4-6 month mark, depending when teeth erupt, you can move your baby onto a soft silicone finger brush twice a day. At this stage you don’t need to use toothpaste.
6 months –
- Once those bottom teeth pop through, brushing gets a little more serious. We now have something to brush! You can move onto a soft-bristled baby toothbrush like the Grabease Double-Sided Toothbrush. Soft bristles are important as they are gentle on both teeth and gums. Brush morning and night with water.
6-12 months –
- See the Dentist for Baby’s first check-up.
18 months to 3 years –
- Use a smear of toothpaste when brushing on a soft-bristled baby toothbrush.
- Work your way up to brushing for 2 minutes twice a day, after eating and before bed.
3 years to 7 years –
- You can increase the amount of toothpaste to a grain of rice. Keep toothpaste amounts small especially if using a fluoride-based toothpaste. Too much fluoride can upset a little one’s tummy.
- Brush for 2 minutes twice a day, after eating and before bed.
- Parent-led brushing is recommended until around 7 years old.
Tips for Success
Start the routine at an early age to instil good habits.
Use small circular motions for effective cleaning.
Introduce the toothbrush at other times of the day, like nappy changing and bath time.
Give your baby a soft-bristled baby toothbrush to brush with at the same time and take turns in brushing.
- Play games with the soft bristles of a dry toothbrush by tickling parts of baby’s face.
- Count from 3-5 seconds per tooth to allow for thorough cleaning in a fun, positive way.
- Sing songs and use a funny voice whilst brushing to create positive associations.
- Rinse toothbrush bristles with hot water, then cold water before and after brushing.
- Replace your baby’s toothbrush every 6-8 weeks.
- Sterilize or replace your baby’s toothbrush after illness as the bristles can hold onto germs.
- Sterilize weekly
- Avoid side by side storage of toothbrushes.
- Close the toilet lid when flushing.
How do I sterilize my baby’s toothbrush?
Once a week, we recommend that you soak the toothbrush in vinegar overnight. This will effectively kill germs and ensure proper oral hygiene.
When do I start brushing my baby's teeth?'
In summary, when they first pop through!
When should I introduce toothpaste when brushing my baby’s teeth?
Toothpaste isn’t necessary at the beginning. At the age of about 18 months you can start using a smear of toothpaste. Be sure to teach your toddler to spit the toothpaste out, especially if using a low-fluoride toothpaste. From 3 years old, you can increase the toothpaste amount to about the size of a grain of rice. Be sure to keep the lid and tube of toothpaste clean and free from product build up.
When should I take my baby to the dentist?
It is recommended to schedule a visit when the first teeth erupt at around 6-8 months old. Otherwise before your baby turns one. Ongoing yearly check-ups are recommended.
My baby won’t let me brush their teeth! What can I do?
What happens if your baby refuses to let you brush their teeth?
Easy! Brush your baby’s teeth while they are laying down.
- Sit on the floor cross-legged
- Lay your baby face-up with their head in your lap
- Ask your little one to open their mouth and look at the ceiling
- Gently brush your baby’s teeth for as long as they are willing (increase it over time)
- Once you have finished brushing, give the toothbrush to your little one to finish.
- For wiggly babies, ask a partner to hold them gently to reduce movement.