When baby #2 came on the scene, the dentist in me kicked in as I noticed his gums changing and teeth coming in. After his breastfeeding sessions, I would clean his gums with a soft cloth. This removes bacteria and also massaged his gums! The finger toothbrush is also great for this.
Then his tooth came in and I went out and got his first brush. This chart is great to see when your baby’s teeth should come in, but remember it is different for everyone.
I wanted the brush to have a non-slippery handle so we could practice together. I also wanted to be sure the bristles were soft with a rounded head so we didn’t harm his tender gums and enamel. I didn’t use toothpaste since I recommend kids don’t use toothpaste under the age of 2. I love this Mam toothbrush.
In the beginning months, I brushed his teeth when he was laying on the changing table. I would sing and he would laugh and then I’d brush. Nowadays, at 17 months, he sits in my lap and I let him brush then I do it after. He watches big sister brush too so we do it alongside her if timing works out.
Technique wise, I start on one side and brush tooth after tooth. I brush the tops (occlusal) of teeth, then the cheek surfaces and then the inner surfaces. I use a circular motion with the bristles of the brush aiming down where the tooth and gum meet since that is where plaque usually forms. I also hold it vertically and use gentle up and down strokes.
And we brush every single day, morning and night. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. The more we do it as a routine for babies, the more important it is for them to form the habit on their own. While its best to brush teeth for a certain time when they are older, as babies it is more about the number of movements. I count the movements so that each part of his mouth is cleaned at least 10 times.
Also, diet is key. I remember when I was in my residency and had cases that we had to do in the operating room because of parents who let their babies sleep with a bottle of milk and some even did juice (gasp). Even if its only water in the bottle, because saliva production is reduced at night, teeth are more prone to demineralization anyway, so if you drink water all night, you reduce the natural production of saliva and then make their teeth more susceptible. And speaking of diet, we definitely reduce the amount of sugar in this house! It’s better for their whole bodies let alone the teeth!
And definitely get them used to the dentist so its fun and not scary! Here is an article on what to expect on that first visit.
Happy brushing everyone!