How to Brush Baby’s First Tooth: Teething FAQ

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Teething is a hard time not only for children but also for their parents. They need to survive those tough weeks and deal with their child’s being fussy. When this long-awaited tooth finally springs up, poor parents are ready to celebrate and exhale with relief. However, this is just the beginning. Prepare yourselves for teething to last a few years more.

Why is it so crucial to take care of brushing temporary baby teeth? First of all, paying enough attention to dental care contributes to forming appropriate habits. It is much easier to accustom your children to brush their teeth every morning and evening if they have already been doing it since they can only remember themselves! Secondly, brushing your child’s temporary teeth appropriately is obviously essential for their health.

baby teething

If your baby has at least one decayed tooth, it can affect the way they eat and speak. There can also appear some troubles with the tooth that pops up after the decayed one falls out. There is a chance that it can be crooked.

Moreover, in some cases, deciduous teeth stay for a lifetime. Even adults can have temporary teeth – it is quite a common situation. So, as far as you understand, ‘Teeth are temporary so there is no need to put efforts to take care of them – they’ll fall out anyway’ is not an excuse anymore.

When Is It Time to Start Brushing Baby’s Teeth?

Right after the baby first tooth pops up, you can be sure the time has come to start brushing. For that, you’ll need either a gauze pad, a finger brush, or a wet face cloth. Clean your baby’s teeth and tongue with it softly.

Dental hygienists recommend wetting the toothbrush and putting a little bit of toothpaste with fluorine (the amount of the toothpaste should be equal in size to a grain of rice). Doctors also recommend choosing a soft brush that has fewer than four sets (or rows) of bristles.

Do not use brushes that are in use longer than three or four months. If you notice that a toothbrush ‘wears out’ and has become harder to the touch, you need to buy a new one. Why? Otherwise, the brush becomes a home for germs.

Is It Safe for a Baby to Brush Teeth with Toothpaste Containing Fluoride?

Following the recommendations of The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, one can safely use toothpaste with fluoride for the first temporary teeth. There is no longer such a myth that one should wait for his/her child to grow up and be 2 years old. Start with a little bit of toothpaste (sized as a rice grain) and increase its amount little by little. So that by the age of 3 the amount of the toothpaste should be equal in size to a pea.

Be ready for the fact that your child can eat some toothpaste instead of spitting it. It’s okay, nothing bad will happen. If we talk about such a small amount of toothpaste as was mentioned earlier, it won’t do any harm. Usually, kids tend to learn to spit toothpaste only at the age of 2.

Do Parents Need to Brush the Kid’s Gums?

Pediatricians advise to brush them after feeding. This way, you ward off the spread of bacteria in the mouth and prevent any dental problems far before the first tooth pops up.

You do not need a toothbrush for it. Use a soft cloth/rubber/silicone brush as they are tender enough for a baby.

How to Teach Children to Take Care of Their Teeth?

Kids are very curious and stubborn so we bet they’ll want to try to brush their teeth themselves. If so, don’t worry and let your child do it solo. Later just check their teeth and brush them again carefully if needed.

Some kids just aren’t fond of the idea of tooth-brushing in the first place. In this case, try inspiring them by using bright colored brushes. There are toothbrushes with dinosaurs, Spiderman, Disney princesses, and whatnot. You can also try showing them a good example on your own. Let your child watch you doing your morning or evening routine and brushing your teeth. This way they will understand that it’s essential and all adults do it.

How to Deal with Your Child’s Protests against Brushing?

Sometimes, kids don’t like brushing teeth because it can cause some discomfort or even pain. Babies have very sensitive gums so pay attention to the quality of a toothbrush and the strength you brush their teeth with.
 
If you are sure that it is not the case, here are some tips on how to cope with strong reluctance to brush teeth:

Ease up: Baby’s gums require delicate treatment. If your child strongly protests against tooth brushing, try starting with something more simple (such as a face cloth).
Give them some time: Do not rush your child. Let them explore, play, think up one thousand silly ways to use or hold the toothbrush. If you do so, your kid will probably even start brushing their teeth.
● A song is never a bad idea: By entertaining and amusing your kid, it would be much easier for you to convince them to do what is needed to do. Distract them a little bit, create a friendly and pleasant atmosphere with uplifting songs or think up your own game (like changing some words in well-known songs and making them sound funny). 
● Engage more people: Let your kid see that all members of the family, their older friends, favorite actors/singers/cartoon characters, or any other role models brush their teeth, too. Then offer them to follow the example.

All the recommendations and tips listed here are based on the information provided by a range of highly respected institutions, among which are FDA (Food and Drug Administration), CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and AAP (the American Academy of Pediatrics).

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Mike Goodman

Mike is a dad to three and an M.D. with a medical degree from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He is responsible for making sure every single medical fact published on our website is right, accurate, and compliant with the recommendations and guidelines of highly authoritative medical sources. He is crazy about traveling, sports, and a healthy lifestyle. And in his family, Mike is the one responsible for healthy nutrition and keeping every family member sports-oriented.

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