When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?
It’s a good idea to start cleaning your baby’s teeth twice a day as soon as you see a tooth emerging. If you start early, your baby will get used to having his teeth cleaned, and hopefully you’ll avoid problems later on.
Your baby’s first tooth will most likely be a bottom front one, appearing when he’s about six months old. However, a few babies are born with a tooth through already. Others are still toothless when they’re one.
Your baby will eventually have 20 milk teeth, all of which should be through by the time he is about two and a half years old.
It may seem a long way off now, but it’s best to carry on brushing your child’s teeth for him until he’s at least seven. By that age, he should be able to do it properly for himself.
How should I clean my baby’s teeth?
Try to get into the habit of brushing your baby’s teeth twice a day. Do it once in the morning, at a time that fits in with your usual routine. Then clean your baby’s teeth again before bed, after he’s had his last drink.
Apply a thin film of toothpaste to the brush. It should cover less than three-quarters of the bristles.
Brush with small, gentle circular movements, concentrating on the area where the teeth and gums meet. Remember that during teething, your baby’s gums will feel tender, so make sure you don’t brush too vigorously.
When you’ve finished, make sure your baby spits out the toothpaste, but don’t rinse his mouth with lots of water. It’s been found that rinsing after tooth-brushing makes toothpaste less effective.
You may find that sitting your baby on your lap, facing away from you, helps you reach his teeth more easily. This position will work well when your baby is a toddler, too. See more ideas for how to brush a squirming toddler’s teeth.
If your baby resists having his teeth brushed give him a toothbrush to hold as well. This way he is more likely to feel in control. You can let him have a go himself and then clean up afterwards.
If you can, let your baby watch you brushing your teeth as often as possible. This will help him to get used to the idea.
Your dentist or dental hygienist will be happy to help if you need more guidance.