Many parents wonder when is the right time to start brushing their baby’s milk teeth.
According to the Department of Health and British Association for the study of Community Dentistry, parents are encouraged to start cleaning their baby’s teeth twice a day, as soon as they see a tooth emerging.
Starting early also helps promote good oral hygiene as your baby will get used to having their teeth cleaned.
Your baby’s first tooth will most likely be a bottom front one when she is around six months old. But this is only an indication as some babies are already born with a tooth, while others are still toothless when they turn one.
However, by the time your baby is two and a half years old, she should have about 20 milk teeth. Parents should keep brushing their child’s teeth until at least 7 years old. Before that she won’t do it properly on her own.
Buying your child’s first toothbrush
Most parents find it easier to clean their baby’s little teeth with a piece of clean gauze or muslin. Simply wrap it around your finger, smear some toothpaste on it, and rub around your baby’s teeth.
If you would rather use a brush, choose one with soft, round ended bristles of varying lengths, with a small head. This will help you reach all parts of your baby’s mouth. Also look at the packaging to see which age range the brush is best suited for. Remember to replace your baby’s toothbrush after three months.
Choosing the correct toothpaste
Check to see the packaging when buying your baby’s toothpaste. Children under three years old should use a lower-fluoride paste. Dentists recommend one containing about 1000ppm (parts per million) of fluoride.
Children over three years old can use ordinary toothpaste – provided it contains no more than between 1350ppm and 1500ppm of fluoride.
Encourage your child to spit as they get older, as swallowing large amounts of fluoride can damage teeth, cause vomiting and even diarrhoea. Dentists’ suggest choosing toothpaste that doesn’t have a tasty fruity flavour, to discourage swallowing.
How to brush
Brush with small, gentle, circular movements, concentrating on the area where the teeth and gums meet. Note however, that during teething, your baby’s teeth will feel tender, so try not to brush too vigorously.
Put your baby on your lap and face her away from you as you brush her teeth. If she resists getting her teeth brushed, then let her hold the toothbrush as well, as you both brush. Also let your child watch you brush your own teeth so that she can get used to the idea.