First thing's first: It is not necessary to start using a toothbrush or toothpaste until your baby's teeth begin to appear, but it is recommended to clean your baby's gums daily.
Typically, baby teeth start to emerge around six to nine months of age. These teeth play a crucial role in enabling your child to eat and speak effectively, and they also serve as guides for the future development of adult teeth into their proper positions.
Before the First Tooth
Proper dental care actually begins before your child's first tooth appears. Each day, you should run a clean, damp washcloth over the gums to wipe away harmful bacteria.
Incorporating the cleaning of your baby's gums into their daily routine is essential. This practice will familiarize both you and your baby with regular mouth cleanings by the time their first tooth emerges. Additionally, since every baby experiences teething differently, it can be challenging for parents to discern when their baby's first tooth is starting to erupt.
When the First Tooth Appears
As soon as the first tooth appears, you should start brushing with an infant toothbrush and fluoride-free toothpaste.
Baby teeth must be cleaned on a regular basis because, like adults, infants can get cavities too. Once your child has a tooth, plaque can begin building up on the surface of the tooth and 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.