September 20, 2015
One of the common concerns of the first-time parent is when should they start brushing their baby’s teeth. Although these teeth will eventually fall out, they are no less important than permanent teeth. A child will not be able to chew properly or speak clearly, if baby teeth are not healthy. Good dental hygiene also minimizes the chances of tooth decay that can be painful for the child. Most importantly, these hold space for permanent teeth that will come in later.
Parents begin to think of brushing when they see the first baby tooth peeping from the gums. However, dentists advise that oral hygiene starts right from the beginning. A moistened piece of gauze wrapped around your finger should be used to wipe the baby’s gums. This ensures that no bacteria stick to the gums. It is advisable to do this after every feeding and at bedtime. This lays the foundation of good oral hygiene right from the start.
Naturally, proper brushing of teeth begins when a couple of teeth have erupted. Normally, the first tooth should begin to show when the child is about 4 months or so.
Selecting the Right Baby Toothbrush
In the beginning you can choose between baby toothbrushes with a handle or go for finger toothbrushes that fit over the end of the finger. Finger brushes are easy to use with infants and have bristles on one side to clean the teeth and the other side can be used to wipe the gums. Baby toothbrushes have a small head with just 2 to 3 rows of bristles that can easily fit into the child’s mouth. These bristles should be extremely soft so that they do not damage the gums while brushing. These can be used for both, to clean the teeth and the gums. A large handle makes it easy to maneuver the toothbrush while it is also easy for the child to grip it.
Once you have introduced brushing, make it a regular routine. Set the routine for brushing twice daily, once in the morning and at bedtime. Most importantly, brush both the front and the back of the teeth.
One should avoid using toothpaste until the age of two years. Even then, one should not use more than a tiny smear of it. It is recommended that you wet the toothbrush with water only and lightly brush the teeth. Alternately, you can use a baby dental cleanser that is free of fluoride. This makes it safe even if the baby swallows some. Additionally, it comes in different flavors that your baby will like. As the water is already fluoridated, there is no need to use toothpaste that contains fluoride. This is because too much fluoride can be harmful for babies. You should continue to brush your child’s teeth, till he or she learns to do it independently.