Helpful Pediatric Dentistry Tips!

When to Start Using Toothpaste for Your Baby

by Dr. Steve Whittemore, D.D.S. | Published June 18, 2021

When it comes to establishing a healthy dental care routine for your child, it can be confusing to know when and how to start. While you might be tempted to think that dental care in young children doesn’t matter since they will lose their baby teeth anyway, caring for your child’s teeth can promote good oral health even into adulthood. Follow these simple guidelines to keep your baby’s gums and mouth healthy, from beginning to use fluoride to scheduling your child’s first dentist appointment. 

When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?

Even before your baby’s first tooth starts growing in, it’s important to keep their gums clean and bacteria-free. You can easily accomplish this by taking a small strip of gauze, wrapping it around your pointer finger, dipping it in water, and gently rubbing your baby’s gums with it. Doing this once per day can help to clear bacteria from your baby’s mouth and promote healthy baby teeth as they begin to grow in. 

Related: How to Care for Your Baby’s First Teeth

When can I start using toothpaste on a baby? 

It is not recommended to use fluoride toothpaste on a child who is under 2 years old. However, once they have reached that milestone, you can begin using a tiny amount of baby fluoride toothpaste—around the size of a grain of rice. This type of toothpaste has a lower concentration of fluoride to protect your child from swallowing and ingesting too much, and using such small increments will further protect this from happening. 

At this stage, you can also begin using a children’s toothbrush on your toddler’s teeth. Since your child’s gums are especially sensitive, these soft-bristled brushes can help you to clean their teeth without damaging their gums or enamel. 

How often should I brush my baby’s teeth? 

When your baby is still an infant, you only need to “brush” their teeth once per day (using the gauze method outlined above). However, once you start introducing them to semi-solid foods before their baby teeth come in, you can use the gauze and water method after every meal to clean away bacteria. 

Once your child has multiple teeth, begin brushing their teeth two times a day—once in the morning and once in the evening—still using only a tiny amount of toothpaste. This is also a great time to begin flossing their teeth once a day. Setting up these good oral habits when your child is young, especially if you make the experience fun for your child, can help them keep their teeth healthy even into adulthood! 

When should my child start going to the dentist?

As a general rule, once your child has their first tooth, it’s a great time to schedule their first dentist appointment. This gives you the opportunity to ask your baby’s dentist any questions you may have about caring for your child’s growing teeth, and it’s also a good time for the dentist to make sure your child’s teeth are coming in properly. Scheduling regular checkups with your dentist ensures that your child’s smile is being well-taken care of, and allows you to address any potential problems quickly and easily. 

Other tips and tricks for keeping your baby’s teeth healthy 

Give your child water after brushing their teeth

Naturally, toddlers and young children can’t swish a mouth rinse or spit out excess toothpaste. Instead, you can give your child a sippy cup or bottle of water to drink after brushing their teeth. 

Teach your child healthy brushing techniques

As you’re brushing your child’s teeth—and as they learn to brush all by themselves—you can help to educate them on how to care for their pearly whites and ensure good oral health. This could include helping them to brush their teeth gently (not scrubbing too hard), encouraging them to spit out excess toothpaste, and modeling good habits by brushing your own teeth twice a day. 

Look for ways to make it fun

Brushing your child’s teeth doesn’t have to be a chore! You can easily make teeth cleaning a fun experience for your kids by playing music as you brush, creating positive incentives such as a sticker chart to track when they’ve brushed, or other fun activities. 

Choose a Trusted Dentist to Care for Your Child’s Growing Teeth 

Properly caring for your child’s oral health can help ensure healthy teeth and gums as they grow into adulthood. Work with a dentist who can offer additional tips and advice to keep your toddler and young child’s mouth healthy. At Pediatric Dentistry of Central Iowa, we’re here to help you instill healthy dental habits in your child to protect their smile as they grow older. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. 

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