Jump to content

- - - - -

When Should You Start Brushing Your Child's Teeth

Posted by MiaJohnson , 20 November 2019 · 1,189 views

After seeing the first tooth bud pop up in your child’s gums, you might be wondering how far they are from having actual teeth that require care and hygiene. It might surprise you how close that time is. Your child’s teeth require care from an early age, which is why you should start figuring out when to begin taking care of their teeth and gums. Here are some key things to consider while you’re monitoring your baby’s pearly whites.  

The importance of milk teeth

Milk teeth are a strangely important part of our childhood. We’ve all had them, and they eventually all end up falling out. It’s an inescapable part of our dental development. Your child has likely started showing its first signs of milk teeth pretty early. Due to their temporary nature, parents often wonder how important it is to take care of these young chompers. If they’re eventually going to fall out on their own, what’s the point of focusing on their care? As is true for many of our body’s functions, there’s a lot more to the story than that.
Consider the longevity of these teeth. They are temporary, but it’s not like they don’t last a long while. You can expect them to stick around at least until your child is around six to ten years old. That’s a full decade of teeth that will be used every single day. During this time, your child will be talking, chewing, and biting down on things till their heart’s delight. This is why it’s so important to take care of those teeth. It might not be the last teeth they’ll have, but they are crucial for their development.

Understanding oral health at a young age

Children aren’t really equipped to deal with their own dental health at such an early age. Even adults neglect the health of their teeth quite often. Children can’t really help it though, especially while they are babies. Neglecting dental hygiene is a lot more serious than you might think. Some of the most dangerous infections start from neglected dental problems. Teeth are absolutely essential for the process of eating, and children will stop eating if they have tooth problems. It’s important that their parents take the initiative and take care of their dental care in their place.
Not only does this prevent their health from deteriorating, but it can also be a great opportunity to educate them on how to take care of their own teeth. By brushing your child's teeth early, you'll slowly teach them that it's a normal part of everyday hygiene. Plus, through continued brushing, they will start to understand how to brush their own teeth properly. You'll still have to teach them a few things even after they start doing it on their own, but having a solid foundation on which to learn on means a lot. Brushing their teeth early will mean a lot for their baby teeth, but it's the knowledge and habits that they acquire that will last them a lifetime. If they understand the importance now, they are sure to keep taking care of their teething the future.

Baby’s first toothbrush

Your baby should have its own toothbrush the moment it starts showing signs of baby teeth. It's not going to be the same kind of toothbrush that their parents use, though. A baby's milk teeth aren't as durable as an adult’s. The enamel on the tooth’s crown is only half a thick as one would find on the tooth of an adult. This means that your baby’s teeth need special care and a delicate touch to get a proper cleaning without causing damage.
A regular toothbrush would be a bit too abrasive on the child’s delicate teeth. Find a toothbrush that is designed with baby teeth in mind, as this would be more suited for your child’s teeth development stage. Use the toothbrush to gently massage your baby’s teeth with slow movements. Most parents will neglect the child’s gums as there aren’t any teeth there yet. However, you should gently brush these areas as well. This will help completely clean the child’s mouth from any food debris, while also teaching them how to brush their teeth. Your child will slowly get used to the feeling of a toothbrush in its mouth and this makes it easier for them to transition towards brushing their own teeth.

Teaching proper brushing techniques

When it comes to dental hygiene, there’s nothing more important than brushing your teeth regularly. As we’ve all learned, you have to brush your teeth three times a day and after meals. The technique you use to brush your teeth is just as important as the frequency at which you brush. Since your child has nowhere else to learn, you’re going to have to carefully teach it how to brush its teeth properly.
Surprisingly, a lot of adults don’t utilize proper brushing techniques themselves. While brushing their teeth, they often use a lot of unnecessary force and damage parts of their teeth, even if they are more durable. The main problem is the way people hold their brushes. Clenching your fist around it and using your whole arm to brush is not a good idea. You put some unnecessary pressure on your enamel and it slowly erodes.
What you have to teach your child is how to hold the brush gently. They should only use their fingers to hold on to the brush. This allows for a lot more maneuverability and care when brushing teeth. Plus, it lets you get in all of those hard to reach places. In spite of its name, brushing teeth actually involves more than just tooth hygiene. You have to brush your tongue to get rid of the many tiny food particles that accumulate there. It helps freshen up your breath and remove any foul smells. With this knowledge, your child will eventually be able to brush its teeth perfectly fine from now on.

Normal teething solutions

Once those little teeth start growing, it’s inevitable that your baby will start teething. As you know, it’s a perfectly natural development and there’s nothing to worry about. Your baby will curiously chew at just about anything it finds on the floor or in its crib. The teeth are only starting to pop up, and it’s causing the baby discomfort. That's why you’ll often hear a lot of crying in the weeks leading up to a tooth popping up.
You can always take some measures to ease the baby’s pain. Teething is most easily solved by giving the baby something to chew on while it’s bored. Teething rings are always a good option. They let your child chew on something clean and there’s no hazard of them choking on it. Just make sure you avoid teething rings that have liquids inside of them. Children can be vigorous while chewing, often causing a teething ring to burst.
Alternatively, you can help your child relieve the pain by stimulating their gums another way. Just rubbing your finger along their gums can keep the uncomfortable sensations at bay. Do this whenever you can and they’ll have fewer urges to teethe. Just make sure you wash your hands beforehand and you’re set.

Preventing cavities

Even though those baby teeth don’t last forever, they can still go bad. Cavities are a real risk for children, especially when their diets are less than ideal. This is something a lot of parents forget to watch out for.
If you’re feeding your baby things other than breastmilk or formula, make sure that they’re not getting too much sugar. While soft drinks and candies might be marketed towards young children, that doesn’t mean they should be having them. Not only do they pose a risk in terms of unnecessary weight gain, but they also pack a ton of sugar. Consuming them creates the ideal environment for cavities to form.
You would be surprised at all the things that contain too much sugar for babies. Fruit juices are a wonderful example of a deceptively healthy drink. The processed versions you buy at the store will have tons of sugar, which is why they aren’t recommended for babies. Even regular milk isn’t exactly the best choice. You should also avoid putting any sugar or honey on your child’s pacifier. It’s not exactly good for their teeth.

Getting the right kind of toothpaste

Toothpaste is the second most important element for brushing teeth, right after the toothbrush. It helps keep our mouth clean of bacteria, at least when properly applied. Dentists normally point out that it’s the brushing motion that cleans teeth the most, while the toothpaste is only secondary. For adults, the type of toothpaste you pick doesn’t matter all that much. There are tiny variations in the ingredients which can have small benefits, but the gist of them is the same. However, the type of toothpaste you get for your child is pretty important.
They can’t get regular adult toothpaste, because it contains some harmful chemicals that aren’t recommended for children to eat. Your baby is only just learning how to swallow, which means it’s probably not going to be able to resist swallowing the toothpaste. It can’t yet comprehend such complex orders, so you would be better off not using this kind of toothpaste.
You need to find some children’s toothpaste for your little munchkin to use. Most brands like Care Dent create their toothpaste with a lower fluoride content to prevent the child from swallowing too much of it. It shouldn’t have too strong of a taste, either. You want to encourage your child to brush its teeth eventually. A strong or repulsive flavour will only discourage them from brushing teeth on their own. Pick something easy on the taste buds, without being too bitter. A light mint or neutral flavour would be an ideal choice. Children’s toothpaste will also be a lot less abrasive on teeth, allowing you to gently brush your child’s teeth without worry.

Introducing advanced dental care

Once your child turns six, they’ll mostly be ready to take care of their own teeth. If you’ve taught them how to brush their teeth and what foods to avoid, that should be enough to keep their dental health in check. However, with the added dexterity that they now have, your child could possibly start taking even better care of their teeth.
Flossing is an often-underestimated part of people’s dental care. Going to the dentist’s after a long while of not flossing might be embarrassing, but there’s a reason that they emphasize the importance of flossing every day. Flossing helps prevent plaque and bacteria build up between your teeth. It's difficult for the toothbrush to reach this area, but flossing helps solve this problem. If you want your child to avoid tooth decay and deterioration, you need to stress the importance of flossing early.
With the added dexterity that they have, children shouldn’t find it too difficult to floss at this age. The only problem is getting them to take it seriously. Brushing teeth is relatively simple and it gives you a minty fresh feeling in your mouth without much effort. However, flossing takes a while and it’s not the most fun activity. Because of this, children will very quickly get bored of it and move on to something else. To get your child to continue flossing, you need to start teaching them early. Encourage them to floss as they begin to brush their teeth solo. It’s going to create a habit that they will follow through with.

You shouldn’t wait too long before you start teaching your child about dental hygiene. Their teeth are pretty functional and integral to their health at a very early age. Because of this, it’s important that you take great care in educating them about oral hygiene. Consult with a dentist and make sure your child’s teeth remain strong and healthy as they grow. They’ll be thankful for it one day, even after the baby teeth are gone.


'My parenting style is Survivalist'

A helicopter or tiger mum, I am not.

8 mums reveal their favourite nappy bags

We asked a bunch of mums which nappy bags they love the most.

Why you shouldn't bother throwing a big first birthday party

If you're feeling the pressure to host an all-out, over-the-top shindig for your baby's birthday, I hereby grant you permission to throw the rules out the window.

The 24 baby names on the verge of extinction this year

If you're on the hunt for the perfect baby name and don't want a chart-topper like Oliver or Olivia, then do we have the list for you.

'My mum doesn't seem that interested in my baby'

Q: My mother and I have always been close, but now that I have a baby, she has not helped out as much as I thought she would.

New guidelines: "Bottle-feeding mums need support too"

Breast is best, but mums who can't, or choose not to breastfeed need support too.

Dads also struggle to 'have it all', study finds

Men and women both experience work-family conflict.

Language development may start in the womb

Study found babies can recognise foreign languages before birth.

Meet the baby born from an embryo frozen for 24 years

Experts say little Emma is a record breaking baby.


Top 5 Articles


From our network

Five things you need to know about flu and pregnancy

As the 2017 flu season begins in earnest, here?s what you need to know to protect yourself and baby.

Mum tips to keep your pre-baby budget in check

Money might be funny in a rich man's world (or so ABBA told us), but for the rest of us it's a major consideration – particularly before having a baby.

5 easy ways to make your maternity leave last longer

Maternity leave is a special time for you, your partner and your new little bundle. The last thing you want is for financial worries to stand in the way of that joy.

10 ways to keep your 'buying for baby' costs down

Becoming a parent is full of surprises – not least of all finding out that, for such small beings, babies cause a lot of chaos and expense.

5 ways to prepare to go from two incomes to one

Here are some ideas for getting that budget in shape, ready for being a one income family.


Baby Names

Need some ideas?

See what names are trending this year.

Essential Baby and Essential Kids is the place to find parenting information and parenting support relating to conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids, maternity, family budgeting, family travel, nutrition and wellbeing, family entertainment, kids entertainment, tips for the family home, child-friendly recipes and parenting. Try our pregnancy due date calculator to determine your due date, or our ovulation calculator to predict ovulation and your fertile period. Our pregnancy week by week guide shows your baby's stages of development. Access our very active mum's discussion groups in the Essential Baby forums or the Essential Kids forums to talk to mums about conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids and parenting lifestyle. Essential Baby also offers a baby names database of more than 22,000 baby names, popular baby names, boys' names, girls' names and baby names advice in our baby names forum. Essential Kids features a range of free printable worksheets for kids from preschool years through to primary school years. For the latest baby clothes, maternity clothes, maternity accessories, toddler products, kids toys and kids clothing, breastfeeding and other parenting resources, check out Essential Baby and Essential Kids.