Helpful Pediatric Dentistry Tips!

What Age to Start Brushing Your Child’s Teeth

by Dr. Steve Whittemore, D.D.S. | Published September 8, 2022

It’s never too early to begin thinking about your child’s teeth. The sooner you and your child develop a healthy relationship with dental care, the better! Parents may often wonder, “at what age should I start brushing my child’s teeth?”. It may seem silly to think about, especially when babies’ teeth don’t even begin to grow until around six months of age. However, it can be very beneficial to begin dental care as soon as you are able. Our blog about how baby teeth decay can affect adult teeth is the perfect example on how getting a head start on dental care is extremely important.

Not only are there multiple health benefits to caring for your child’s mouth right away, but it can get them used to the feeling of stimulation similar to teeth brushing even before their teeth have grown in. At Pediatric Dentistry of Central Iowa, we’ve created a guide on different stages of brushing your child’s teeth and what to expect!

0-3 Months of Age

Caring for Gums

Most babies will not have teeth between 0-3 months of age. However, it is still important to begin practicing good mouth hygiene. We recommend using a soft toothbrush or even the corner of a clean damp washcloth to lightly massage the gum area. You can either use water, or water and a small amount of baby-safe toothpaste. In a circular motion, much like you would your own gums, massage with your material of choice. This helps to not only clean and stimulate the gum, but it will become a regular feeling your baby can get used to.

3-9 Months of Age

Continuing Gum Care & Start Brushing

Just like many other milestones in a child’s life, they can all happen at different times and rates. From 3-6 months of age, you may begin to see signs of teeth erupting through the gums. But it is also normal to not see teeth until 6-9 months of age. Whichever the case may be, keeping up with gum care is still incredibly important. This helps to prepare the mouth for teeth by protecting the health of the gum from bacteria that could get inside once a tooth has erupted. 

If your baby is teething at this stage, we recommend a cold washcloth or soft bristled toothbrush. The temperature helps to alleviate the pain or discomfort in the gums. If your child does in fact begin to have a couple teeth erupt, you can begin to use a soft toothbrush to brush them gently like you would your own, twice a day— making sure to angle the head of the brush to cover every corner of the erupted tooth. Brush along the gums where teeth haven’t erupted yet, this allows the child to get used to the sensation in those areas.

9-12 Months of Age

Start Brushing Those Baby Teeth

By this time, your child will likely have a couple or even a few teeth that have erupted. This can be an uncomfortable stage for them, as they are right in the middle of teething to reduce pain in their gums. We recommend following the same steps as you have done before, brushing twice a day with a soft bristled brush and a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. Hopefully, by this time, your child has become used to the sensation of teeth brushing.

If your child’s teeth have not erupted by their first birthday, don’t panic. Just like other abilities and skills, teeth develop over time at different rates that are unique to the individual.

12-18 Months of Age

Encourage Teeth Brushing As Regular Routine

At this stage, children may not be fully-equipped to handle brushing on their own, and that’s okay! We recommend that parents continue to help kids at this age by brushing their teeth for them, but to encourage this as a routine and even practice spitting after brushing. Spitting after brushing will help them practice those independent motor skills too!

At Pediatric Dentistry, we like to recommend that parents begin looking into scheduling their first appointment with us around 12-18 months of age to ensure development is happening successfully. 

3-6 Years of Age

Brush Together!

During this time, your child will want to start to do things on their own. They crave independent tasks, so, hand over the toothbrush and make your routine an activity you can do together. Curb defiant or negative emotions of teeth brushing by associating it as a fun part of the day. After all, children learn better when they can mimic adults. You may still need to “touch up” on brushing once your child has managed to do it themselves. When you brush together, your child can feel independent doing it themselves, and you can keep an eye on their brushing at the same time.

Start Your Child’s Teeth Brushing Routine with Pediatric Dentistry

Need guidance on implementing or improving your child’s brushing routine? Or, perhaps you need a couple tips on how to assist your child with brushing? Our expert dental staff love to talk to new and regular patients! Contact us today to get started with Pediatric Dentistry of Central Iowa.