First Teeth Caring Tips
As soon as your baby’s first teeth start to appear you should start brushing them twice a day with a toothbrush specially designed for babies little mouths. Babies accept things that are familiar to them, so do let them hold a brush, without toothpaste, to get used to the feel of it, but don’t be surprised if they start brushing their teeth, their hair, and even their favorite toy with it! Letting your baby watch you brush your teeth will also help encourage them to see it as a normal daily routine not to be scared of.
The easiest way to brush your baby’s teeth is by sitting them comfortably on your lap. A specially designed toothbrush for babies should be used as it will have super soft bristles and a small head that will allow you to get to those hard to reach parts of the mouth more easily and comfortably. If it’s still proving too difficult even with a baby brush and they only have a few teeth you could try using a bit of clean muslin wrapped around your finger at first.
Whichever option you choose, gently brush each tooth in a circular ‘scrub’ motion, keeping the bristles aiming down towards where the tooth and gum meet. Be careful to only use a pea-sized amount of baby toothpaste – this is important because babies tend to swallow most of it!
Finally, gently wipe the surface of the tongue as this can harbor the bacteria that cause tooth decay but be careful not to venture too far back or you may cause your baby discomfort.
At first cleaning your baby’s teeth can be a messy process. In time it will get easier as you become more confident and you are both able to relax. But in the meantime be prepared for it to get messy! Have a damp muslin or flannel at the ready to wipe away excess dribbles and toothpaste from the chin.
Should I use fluoride toothpaste?
Fluoride comes from a number of different sources including toothpaste, specific fluoride applications and perhaps the drinking water in your area. These can all help to prevent tooth decay. If you are unsure about using fluoride toothpaste ask your dentist, health visitor or health authority. The current advice is to use a pea-sized smear of a toothpaste containing at least 1000ppm of fluoride. You can check the level of fluoride on the packaging of the toothpaste. Children should be supervised up to the age of 7, and you should make sure that they spit out the toothpaste and don’t swallow any if possible.
Sweet versus savoury
Once on solids, try to encourage your baby to like savoury foods and be careful not to pass on any negativity you may have about ‘eating your greens’ etc. There is no reason why most children should not like vegetables, particularly if you try to make them fun, for example you could ask them to imagine broccoli florets as little trees etc. Start them on pureed vegetables (see First Foods) and natural fruit juice diluted in water. While fruit juice may sound healthy it is important to dilute it for small children because fruit is naturally high in sugar and the acid can dissolve the teeth. Also bear in mind that sugary drinks are more likely to cause tooth decay if they are taken between mealtimes or just before bed, so try to only give them with food. Similarly, dummies should never be dipped in honey or other sweet substance.