While there's no need to start brushing with a toothbrush or toothpaste until your infant's teeth begin to emerge, you should clean your baby's gums daily.
Baby teeth typically start to erupt when children are between six and nine months of age. These teeth are very important, as they help your child eat and speak. They'll eventually guide the adult teeth into their proper spaces.
Before the First Tooth
Did you know that proper dental care actually starts before your child's first tooth appears? Every day, you should run a clean, damp washcloth over the gums to wipe away bacteria that can harm your baby's mouth.
Cleaning your baby's gums as part of your daily routine right from the start will help to ensure that, by the time your child's first tooth comes in, you and your baby will both already be used to regular mouth cleanings. Furthermore, since every baby teethes a bit differently, it can sometimes be difficult for a parent to tell when baby's first tooth is beginning to break through the gumline.
When the First Tooth Appears
You should start brushing with an infant toothbrush and fluoride-free toothpaste as soon as the first tooth appears.
Baby teeth must be cleaned regularly because, like adults, infants can also get cavities. Once your child has a tooth, plaque can start to build up on the tooth's surface, causing decay.
Children should brush at least twice a day – once in the morning and once before bed. Flossing can begin once your child has two teeth side-by-side.
Tips for Oral Care of Baby Teeth
Even babies can develop tooth decay if good habits aren't practiced. By following these oral health tips, you can help your child's baby teeth remain healthy:
- Avoid putting a baby to sleep with a bottle. It might be convenient but can harm the baby's teeth. When sugars from juice or milk sit on a baby's teeth for hours, they can eat away at the enamel, creating a condition known as bottle mouth.
- Teach your children good dental care habits early. When you show them how to take care of their baby teeth you are starting positive habits that will last a lifetime.
- Visit a dentist who provides children's services by the age of one year, or around the time when the first teeth appear. This will help preserve the baby teeth until they are ready to fall out and be replaced by the adult teeth.