Caring for your baby’s teeth – Why, When and How

All you think is “MY BABY’S FIRST TOOTH!” and it definitely is something to make note of and remember. Your little baby is growing up already. Excitement is in the air and we don’t really consider what comes next except for just brushing their teeth right? I thought that was enough until we visited the dentist and found that the little one, at age 2 and a half, needed 4 crowns due to decaying teeth. I thought we were doing it by the book and brushing twice a day but, it was taken for granted. A little baby going through root canals is not fair on him/her. So, I did some research and found that there is more to caring for your baby’s teeth.

Why are baby teeth important?

Baby teeth assist your baby in chewing their food and also play a role in those cute little smiles. Importantly baby teeth hold a space for permanent teeth that are developing within the gums. Ever heard someone without any teeth speak? Baby teeth also help your baby in speech development, helping them to speak and sound out words easily. If baby teeth are not taken care of correctly and they fall out sooner than their time then permanent teeth may pop up and find their home in empty spaces that do not belong to them, this leaves no room for the teeth that actually belong there, messing up the whole structure.

When and how to start oral care?

Now that we know why baby teeth are so important even though they are just going to fall off anyway, we should try our best to take care of them until they are ready to fall off.

  • Gum care – Oral care is important even before your baby’s teeth start to break through. Taking care of your baby’s gums gets your baby comfortable with the cleaning process making it much easier for you and less resistance from your toddler when you actually have to brush his/her teeth. Having clean gums make stronger, healthier gums too. You’re taking one for the team and you will be glad you did so. At around 4-5 months you should start wiping your baby’s gums with a warm, damp washcloth. Wrap the washcloth around your finger to make it easier to get into your baby’s mouth and wipe it. You do not need to use any toothpaste, just a clean wash cloth and warm water.
  • Incoming teeth – You can start brushing your baby’s teeth from as early as the first tooth popping up. Be gentle and stick to warm water. Your baby will not be able to open their mouth wide enough at your command therefore, using a finger toothbrush is an excellent way to reach the teeth all the way at the back. It is important to clean the hard-to-reach places because plaque loves to build up in back.

How regular should you clean your baby’s mouth?

We all have been taught you should brush your teeth in the morning and before going to bed however, with babies you should try to clean their mouth after every feeding as well as sticking to the twice a day standard. As they grow older you can do away with cleaning their teeth after every feeding.

Some tips

  1. Brush twice a day
  2. Spit when brushing
  3. Once you are able, start flossing and show your child how to floss. Allow them to try on their own under your supervision.
  4. Use a soft bristled toothbrush for your child 
  5. Use a low fluoride toothpaste
  6. Only use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste
  7. Do not swallow the toothpaste

Everything gets easier once your child is capable of doing things on their own but, it does not mean they are doing it right. Supervise your child’s teeth cleaning habits until they are at least 8 years old, encourage them to brush twice a day and make sure they are cleaning their mouth thoroughly. They might hate you for being a nag but it is for their benefit and one day they will thank you. I still thank my mom for all the ways she raised me even though at the time I did not like it all. It isn’t easy being the bad guy but, it must be done.

5 Replies to “Caring for your baby’s teeth – Why, When and How”

  1. Excellent advice! I didn’t brush my babies’ teeth enough, so they both had bad looking teeth at their first dentist visit. Now, as teens, they both have pretty good teeth, no thanks to their neglectful mom. 🙂

    1. Ahh, it happens to the best of us :). We had the same problem and it was not pretty at all, now that we know hopefully they grow up to have good teeth too. It is a working progress.

  2. Okay didn’t know that baby teeth was so essential for brushing. So true sometimes you have to be the bad guy as a parent but your kids will thank you for the work in the long run. Great lesson in child care.

  3. This is a great post in raising awareness. My girls are 3 5 and 8 and I still go over their teeth to check they are done properly as kids now days want to do them quick so they can carry on playing with things. My sister has had to go through the same as you with my nephew needing fillings already with drinking too many sugary drinks.

    1. Yes, I have noticed the boys brushing their teeth and they are done in less than 5 seconds! 🙂 It’s a kid thing and it’s important to stay on top of that.

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