Discovering your baby’s first tooth - usually around the age of 4 months - might be a classic “get the camera!” moment, but don’t forget in all the excitement to keep that brand new chomper looking shiny and clean. Plaque buildup on baby teeth can contribute to early cavities, causing babies a serious mouthful of pain. Ideally, baby dental hygiene should begin as soon as your baby’s first tooth pushes through the gums. Ready to get started?
Wipe the plaque away. Most pediatricians recommend starting a baby’s teeth cleaning routine with little more than a piece of water-moistened gauze. Gently run the gauze along your baby’s teeth and gums, once in the morning and once before bedtime.
Bring in the brush. By the time your baby’s fifth tooth arrives, you can try using a small toothbrush with 3 or 4 rows of soft bristles. She might protest at first, but keeping up a gentle brushing routine twice per day should help her get used to the sensation pretty quickly.
Debate paste. Before applying any toothpaste to your baby’s teeth, talk it over with her pediatrician. If you happen to live in an area with fluoridated water, the doctor might advise you not to use any toothpaste on your baby’s teeth just yet. Fluoride poisoning is one of the most commonly reported infant emergencies, and too much fluoride from a combination of toothpaste and the local drinking water could be too much for your baby to handle.
However, the collective wisdom on fluoridated toothpaste has changed in recent years, and many dentists now advise parents to use a smear of fluoridated toothpaste when they begin brushing a baby's teeth. You should talk to the pediatrician or other healthcare provider if you have any questions about fluoride and your child.