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Baby teeth are so cute and tiny, especially when they first appear! It’s natural to oooh and aahhh over your child’s wee smile from the start. But looks aside, it’s also important to keep that wee smile healthy. That’s why your pediatric dentists at The Beach House Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics have some tips for caring for your baby’s teeth — from birth (yes, even before teeth show up!) through the toddler years.

When to Start Brushing Your Baby’s Teeth – Start with the Gummy Smile!

So, when do you start brushing your baby’s teeth? As we hinted, oral care should start even before teeth erupt. Before your wee one has teeth, get into the habit of wiping their gums with a soft, wet cloth or a silicone finger brush after feeding. This early baby teeth care habit helps remove sugars, bacteria, and food particles. Early oral care sets the stage for good oral hygiene habits and helps prevent tooth decay right from the start.

How to Brush Baby Teeth

Once the first tooth makes its debut — usually around six months old — switch to a toothbrush designed for babies. Brush gums and teeth gently with a teeny, rice-grain-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.

Here, our board-certified pediatric dentists, Dr. Parker and Dr. Sana share tips for a good oral health routine:

  1. Choose the Right Toothbrush: Use a soft-bristled, small-headed toothbrush designed for brushing baby teeth.
  2. Use the Right Toothpaste: Caring for baby’s teeth definitely includes choosing a fluoride toothpaste to help strengthen your child’s tooth enamel. Primary teeth enamel is actually thinner than adult teeth enamel, so it’s especially important to use an enamel-strengthening fluoride toothpaste. As for taste, you’ll find plenty of kid-friendly options in candy and fruit-like flavors at your local drugstore. Mint flavored ones can be too intense for little ones’ sensitive taste buds.
  3. Find A Gentle Technique: Hold your child securely in a comfortable position for them and brush gently in small circles, covering all surfaces of the teeth and gums.
  4. Make It Routine: Brush twice daily, ideally after the first and last meals. And floss when your child’s teeth start to touch.

How to Brush Baby’s Teeth When They Refuse

Let’s be real; sometimes brushing your child’s baby teeth and gums can be met with some resistance. Try these for making the process smoother:

Here, our board-certified pediatric dentists, Dr. Parker and Dr. Sana share tips for a good oral health routine:

  1. Make It Fun: Sing songs, play a favorite tune, or tell a story to make brushing more enjoyable. A song also helps you count your brushing time — a thorough brushing takes about two minutes.
  2. Use Distractions: Let your child hold a toy or another toothbrush while you brush their teeth.
  3. Lead by Example: Brush (and floss!) your teeth in front of your child so they see it as a regular daily activity and something you value.
  4. Be Consistent: Establish a daily oral care routine to help you and your child get into the habit.

How to Brush Toddler Teeth

As your baby grows into a toddler, your oral hygiene routine will need to evolve a little. Here’s how to brush toddler teeth effectively and make brushing more fun:

  1. Bigger Brush, Pea-Sized Toothpaste: Switch to a toddler-sized toothbrush and use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste instead of a rice grain-sized amount.
  2. Let Them Participate: Encourage your toddler to brush their teeth first, so they get used to how they should brush. Then, you can take over to ensure thorough cleaning.
  3. Interactive Brushing: Use toothbrushing apps or videos featuring your child’s favorite characters (hello, Peppa Pig, anyone?) designed to make brushing fun and educational.
  4. Patience and Praise: Patience and cheering on your toddler for their oral hygiene efforts makes the experience even more positive.
  5. Add Flossing: When teeth begin to touch, it’s harder for a toothbrush to clean all surfaces of your child’s teeth effectively. Enter dental floss! Your child might even want to try flossing themselves—choose fun floss picks, which are easier to handle and more fun for little hands than traditional string floss. Floss picks can help get them into the flossing habit, and you can easily find kids’ floss picks in the dental care aisle at the store.

Additional Tips & Tricks for Caring for Your Baby and Toddler’s Teeth:

Brushing — and flossing when teeth touch — is not the only oral care habit to cultivate for your child’s best smile. Your Missouri City pediatric dentists also suggest including the following in how you approach your child’s oral health:

Regular Dental Visits: The American Dental Association recommends scheduling your baby’s first dental visit by their first birthday or when their first tooth appears. Why? Well, when there’s a tooth, there’s the possibility of a cavity! After the first visit, regular check-ups (typically every six months) help in the early detection of potential dental health or orthodontic issues. Going to the dentist from an early age makes visits feel more comfortable and familiar to your child.

A Healthy Diet: Limit sugary snacks and drinks to prevent tooth decay. It’s also a good idea to leave two hours between eating to allow saliva enough time to work its magic. Saliva restores the oral pH from the acidic levels that encourage tooth decay.

Be sure to also introduce whole, healthy foods into your child’s diet. Foods good for teeth and gums? Think colorful fruits and veggies full of vitamins A and C, which help grow healthy soft oral tissues. And dairy products like yogurt and cheese offer calcium and vitamin D, which are important for building strong bones and teeth.

Hydration: Ensure your child drinks plenty of water, which helps wash away food particles, bacteria, and keeps the oral environment moist with saliva. Saliva is 99% water, so it makes sense that the more hydrated your child is, the more optimal amount of saliva they’ll have.

More Questions About Baby & Toddler Teeth Care

Caring for your baby’s teeth from birth through toddlerhood sets the foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles. Have more questions about promoting good oral care at home for your wee one? Give us a shout!

Make an appointment for your child’s next cleaning and checkup at our easy, breezy Missouri City pediatric dentist office. Dr. Parker, Dr. Sana, and The Beach House Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics team are here to answer your questions and support your child’s smile journey from babyhood through the teens.