Recently, our baby has discovered his absolute love of oral hygiene. His favorite time of day is every morning and every evening when he gets to brush his teeth.
It is so adorable and it makes me super happy and proud to know that all of our efforts to prioritize infant oral hygiene are paying off!
I get lots of questions from new parents asking when to start brushing baby’s teeth and how to brush baby teeth properly.
Because it is so important for your baby to brush her teeth and develop good oral care, I wanted to put together this all-inclusive guide to help you understand everything you need to know about infant teeth care.
In this post you will find the answers to:
- Why is infant oral hygiene important?
- When will my baby will start teething, what are the symptoms of baby teething, and how can I relieve teething pain?
- When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?
- How do I brush my baby’s teeth and what can I do if my baby hates brushing teeth?
- How do I look for signs of a cavity in my baby’s teeth and how do I prevent infant cavities?
- When should I take my baby to the dentist for the first time and what should I expect at the first dentist appointment?
- What are the best baby toothbrushes for my baby at each age?
- And so much more!
Keep reading to check out this ultimate infant tooth brushing guide and then leave a comment below to let me know whether or not your baby likes brushing his teeth with you!
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Why is it important to brush my baby’s teeth?
Before we jump in with the details about how to take care of your baby’s teeth, I think it’s important for new parents to understand why it’s important to create good teeth brushing habits with your baby.
Because, I’m going to be honest with you.
It can be a lot of work to prioritize oral hygiene for your kids. And sometimes you wonder if it’s really worth it.
Trust me, mama. It’s worth it! Oral hygiene is super important for your children.
Poor oral hygiene can have a huge impact on your baby’s ability to learn to chew properly. If he develops cavities, it may be painful or they may have to remove teeth prematurely. This makes it super difficult for your child to learn how to chew correctly.
Proper teeth brushing and good oral care is also important as your baby learns to talk. If your baby needs to remove teeth due to cavities, she will have a harder time learning to talk and is more likely to develop a speech impediment.
Your child’s baby teeth are vital for his proper oral development. Losing baby teeth too early creates an empty space in his mouth. This can allow his adult teeth to move around and cause crowding and crooked teeth in the future.
Creating Good Habits:
Prioritizing your baby’s oral hygiene at an early age means that you are setting the groundwork for great oral hygiene in the future. Your infant will grow up knowing how important it is to take care of her teeth. And it will be a normal part of her daily routine!
This is great because you won’t have to struggle to convince your child to brush her teeth or reverse bad habits as she gets older. It’s just something she knows to do every day!
Longer Life Expectancy:
My cousin is a dental hygienist and she always reminds us how important it is to brush and floss. Research shows that people who regularly brush and floss their teeth live longer than people who don’t. So helping your baby learn how to brush his teeth will literally help him to live longer!
When do babies start teething?
When new parents starting thinking about infant teeth brushing and baby oral hygiene, they often wonder when their baby will get the first tooth.
The exact baby teething age timeline of when your baby will get her first teeth varies. Babies typically get their first teeth between 3 and 8 months old. However, this is different for every baby.
Some babies get their first tooth after their first birthday. And occasionally newborns are born with a tooth!
Your baby will typically have all of her teeth by 24 months and get new teeth every 4 to 6 months during those first two years.
Which teeth will my baby get first?
The order that your baby’s teeth erupt may vary a little. However, they generally pop through in the same order for most kids.
The first teeth are usually the middle teeth – first the ones on the bottom. Then the ones on the top. These are called the central incisors.
Next, the adjacent teeth with pop up. They’ll keep working their way to the back and the molars will be the last teeth to come through.
Symptoms of Teething
Teething can painful for your baby. And if you think about it, it totally makes sense!
While your baby is teething, the teeth push through the bone and the gum line, so it’s no wonder that it’s a painful process!
When your baby is teething, you may see some of these common teething symptoms:
- Red or swollen gums
- Low grade fever
- Being more fussy than normal
- Difficulty sleeping
- Chewing on things (everything!)
- Hands in the mouth
- Ear pain
- Refusing the bottle
What can you do to relieve teething pain?
I always feel so bad for my baby when he is teething because I know that he is in pain.
Luckily, there are a few great ways to help relieve teething pain when new teeth are popping through.
- Clean your hands and then gently rub your baby’s gums.
- Give your baby a teething toy to chew on. We love these wooden ones!
- Offer your baby a cool teething ring after it’s been in the fridge or freezer. Our baby always loved chewing on these after they were nice and cold!
- Rinse your baby’s pacifier in water and put it in the freezer. Then give it to your baby to suck on.
- Give your baby a celery stalk to chew on.
- Offer your baby a milk popsicle made out of formula or breastmilk.
- Try a high quality amber teething necklace or bracelet.
- Apply a little teething gel on your baby’s gum.
- Give your baby a little pain medication, like Tylenol. Just check with your pediatrician first.
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When to start brushing your baby’s teeth?
Alright, so your baby’s first tooth has popped up, so that’s how you know when to start brushing your baby’s teeth, right?
Newborn oral care is important and you actually want to start brushing your baby’s teeth long before those first teeth come in.
If your baby is older and you haven’t started yet, don’t worry! It’s never too late to start building a routine of good oral hygiene with your baby.
When to start brushing baby’s gums
Ideally, you should start brushing your newborn’s gums within the first few days after he is born.
Gently rub your baby’s gums with a soft wet washcloth (starting as young as possible). They also sell these awesome baby teeth wipes that you can use on your baby’s little newborn gums. They’re safe for your baby and really convenient for you to use.
Try to clean your newborn’s gums at least once a day. But you can do this after every feeding if you want!
This helps to rub off any bacteria and prevent any buildup of plaque on your baby’s gum.
It also gets your baby used to this routine and helps to build a great tooth brushing routine from day one!
What age do you start brushing your baby’s teeth
As your baby gets older, you can transition to actually brushing your baby’s teeth. You typically want to transition to a toothbrush some time between when the first tooth erupts and shortly after your baby’s first birthday.
We switched to a baby finger brush around 3 or 4 months. As an added bonus, our baby loved the chew on this to help relieve teething pain!
Then we transitioned to a soft, baby toothbrush around 10 months.
Your goal should be to brush your baby’s teeth twice per day, typically once after breakfast and once before bed.
This will build the perfect teeth cleaning habit as your baby grows older!
How to brush your baby’s teeth
At first, it can be intimidating to brush your baby’s teeth!
What exactly do you do and how can you brush your baby’s teeth without her fighting you or getting upset?
Luckily it’s super easy! And the more often you do it, the easier it gets.
Step 1: Put a rice-sized amount of toothpaste onto an infant toothbrush.
Dentists now recommend using fluoride toothpaste with younger babies than they have in the past. But you only want a small amount of it in order to minimize how much toothpaste your baby swallows.
Talk with your doctor first to see if your baby is old enough to use baby toothpaste with fluoride and check what type of toothpaste your pediatrician recommends.
Step 2: Help your baby to get situated.
I recommend that you help your baby to sit in your lap, facing away from you or to have them sit on the bathroom counter and look into the mirror. You can move around your baby or help them to readjust if you need different angles.
Step 3: Help your baby to brush her teeth.
We always start with the phrase, “Mom first!” I gently brush all of my baby’s teeth to make sure that we get everything cleaned properly.
We start by saying, “Ahhhh.” I encourage my baby to open his mouth wide. Then I gently move the toothbrush in circles to clean the outer areas of his teeth and gums and then the chewing surfaces of all of his teeth.
Next, I tell him to make a buzzing sound. While he makes this, I gently brush the front of his teeth so they are sparkling clean!
Note that it is never too early to give these verbal cues to your baby. Babies understand language much earlier than they can speak it and you would be amazed at how early they can understand these prompts.
Plus, babies love routine. Using these phrases and having the exact same routine every morning and every night will help your baby know exactly what to expect. This will make teeth brushing time even easier for you and your baby.
Step 4: Let your baby brush his teeth.
After you have gotten all of the areas, it’s time for your baby to brush her teeth! This is great for your baby because it helps her to practice the movements and become more independent.
Our baby is so proud every day when he gets to brush his teeth all by himself. He flashes the biggest smiles as brushes his teeth independently.
Make sure to look for a specific toothbrush for babies, because these are better for your baby’s teeth, easier for your baby to hold, and less likely to make your baby gag.
Step 5: Brush your teeth in front of your baby.
While your baby is brushing her teeth, I highly recommend that you brush your teeth in front of your baby.
This helps to show the importance of good oral hygiene. It also helps to show your baby what she should do when she brushes her teeth. She will watch what you are doing and then learn to copy all of the motions you are making.
My husband and I brush our teeth with our baby and we all have so much fun smiling at each other while we finish out tooth brushing routine. I’m pretty sure our baby thinks it is a big game, which is why he loves brushing his teeth so much!
Step 6: Encourage your baby to spit.
After you’re done brushing your teeth, rinse and spit. Then encourage your baby to spit too.
You shouldn’t give your baby water or have him rinse, because this will increase the amount of toothpaste that he swallows. But you do want to start teaching him to spit when he’s done.
He might not understand this at first, but as you keep practicing, you baby will learn exactly what he needs to do when he finishes brushing his teeth.
How do you know if you aren’t brushing your baby’s teeth properly?
As new parents, we like to worry. And sometimes we wonder if we are brushing our baby’s teeth well enough.
This is especially true when your baby chews and bites on the toothbrush while you help to brush her teeth and you’re not exactly sure how much “brushing” you accomplished.
For both your newborn and your older infant, the best way to check if you are brushing your infant’s teeth properly is to look at her teeth and gums.
If your baby’s teeth are red or swollen, you might be brushing too hard. Make sure that you have a soft toothbrush and apply very gentle pressure while you help to brush your infant’s teeth.
If there is a layer of furry, white film or any brown spots or pits on your baby’s teeth, you might not be removing all of the plaque or your baby might have a cavity. Schedule a dentist’s visit for your baby so they can check your baby’s teeth and help teach brushing techniques to use at home.
What can you do if your baby hates brushing her teeth?
Many babies don’t like brushing their teeth.
They don’t like it when you stick a new, strange object in their mouth, try to wiggle it around to rub their teeth, and try to keep their hands away so you can focus on your tooth brushing job.
But there are tons of great ways to help make this more fun and learn how to brush your baby’s teeth when they refuse.
If you use these techniques, you can learn how to get your baby to brush her teeth and have fun while doing it!
Our baby actually cries if he sees his toothbrush and we don’t help him to brush his teeth right away. And he’s always bummed when he’s done brushing his teeth and it’s time to put away his toothbrush. Taking care of his teeth is definitely a highlight of his day!
Here are a few ways to help if your baby hates brushing his teeth.
- Sing Songs – Dance and be silly so your baby has fun while brushing her teeth
- Play Games – Make it a game every time you brush your baby’s teeth. You can count teeth, make silly noises, do fun actions, or anything that helps your baby to have fun while brushing teeth.
- Role model – The more your baby sees you brushing your teeth, the more your baby will want to do it too! Babies are great at copycatting and they want to be just like mom and dad.
- Laugh and smile – If you have a big smile and share lots of laughs, you very clearly tell your baby that it is fun to brush his teeth! This is a great way to help him enjoy it more.
- Relax and go with the flow – Don’t be afraid to be a little flexible with your tooth brushing routine. Some days your baby may want to brush first, and then let you help. Some nights you might clean his teeth really well and other days might not be as thorough. It’s okay to follow your baby’s cues and adjust as needed.
How can you tell if your baby has a cavity?
One of the main reasons that you want to create a great habit of brushing your baby’s teeth is to avoid getting a cavity.
These can be painful for your baby. Bad cavities can cause baby tooth decay that is so severe, the tooth can’t be saved and needs to be removed.
Fixing a cavity or taking out a tooth is painful for your baby and causes lots of different problems with chewing, talking, and growth of permanent teeth in the future.
So how can you tell if you should be worried that your baby has a cavity?
- Look for brown or white spots or pits on your baby’s teeth.
- Watch to see if your baby shows signs of sensitivity.
If you are worried that your baby has a cavity, schedule an appointment with the pediatric dentist right away to check things out.
How can you prevent cavities in your baby’s teeth?
Luckily, cavities are preventable and most babies never need to remove their baby teeth prematurely. A few things you can do to prevent cavities are:
- Don’t let your baby fall asleep with a bottle. When they do this, they often fall asleep with a little milk in their mouth. This can sit on their teeth and lead to cavities and tooth decay.
- Offer your baby only water and unflavored milk. Juice and flavored milk (like chocolate or strawberry) has tons of added sugar, which can cause teeth problems. Your baby has no need for flavored drinks so just offer water and milk instead.
- Give your baby healthy meals and snacks. Once your baby is old enough to start eating solid food, offer healthy options. Giving lots of sweets and desserts can lead to more cavities because of the extra sugar in these foods.
- Don’t share your silverware. Babies aren’t born with bacteria in their mouth. If you share your silverware with them or lick their pacifier “clean,” you introduce the bacteria from your mouth to your baby.
- Brush your baby’s teeth every day. Start brushing your newborn’s gums with a rag as early as possible and then transition to a toothbrush as she gets older. Creating this habit early is the key to preventing cavities throughout your child’s entire life.
- Schedule regular dentist appointments. If is very important to schedule regular dentist visits for your baby so they can check for any problems and address them right away. Plus they give you great tips to prevent cavities in the future!
If you’re just starting solid foods with your baby, I highly recommend this amazing course on Baby Led Feeding. She teaches you everything you need to know to safely introduce solid food and feel confident teaching these skills to your baby.
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When to take your baby to the dentist?
You should schedule your baby’s first dentist appointment sometime between when their first tooth erupts and your baby’s first birthday. You can always schedule an appointment earlier or schedule extra visits if you have questions or concerns.
At your baby’s first dentist appointment, the dentist with check your baby’s jaw and tooth development to make sure that everything is growing properly. Then they will check for cavities and give you lots of tips on good oral hygiene for your baby.
Tips for a good dentist appointment with your baby:
- Ask the office if you can get your paperwork ahead of time. Fill them out at home so your baby doesn’t have to wait for you to fill them out in the office.
- Talk to your baby before the visit. Talk about how much fun it will be and explain what will happen. Remember that babies understand a lot more than you might think and this can help her to understand what to expect.
- Practice playing games to prepare. Tell your baby to open her mouth and practice counting teeth. Make it fun ahead of time so that you can use the same techniques at your appointment.
- Read books about dentist appointments before your visit. Again, this helps your baby to know what to expect and think happy thoughts while he’s at the dentist.
- Don’t schedule the appointment during nap time. Instead, coordinate your schedule and pick a time when your baby will be well-rested and in a better mood.
- Eat and brush your baby’s teeth before the appointment. This helps your baby to have a full tummy so she’s not hungry and cranky at her dentist appointment. It also helps to make sure she has clean teeth before seeing the dentist.
Questions to ask the dentist:
You want to be as prepared as possible when you arrive at the dentist’s office with your baby. Ask these questions to help you know what to expect and continue to build great oral hygiene habits at home.
- Can you show me how to brush my baby’s teeth?
- How do I floss my baby’s teeth?
- Should I use fluoride toothpaste? How much should I use?
- What can I do to help with teething pain?
- How can I tell if my baby is at risk for cavities or other oral problems?
- When should my baby stop using a pacifier/sucking his thumb and what can I do to help?
- When should we schedule our next appointment?
Recommendations for your baby’s first toothbrush
Now that you know all about why it’s important to prioritize your baby’s oral hygiene and how to properly brush your baby’s teeth, I wanted to share a few of my favorite toothbrush recommendations with you!
Smile Frida Finger Toothbrush
This is my favorite newborn toothbrush. It’s perfect to rub and soothe your baby’s gums. It’s also perfect to train good oral hygiene habits. We starting using this when our baby was 3 months old.
Baby Banana Toothbrush and Teether
This the the perfect toothbrush for your teething baby! Your baby can bite on it to help with teething pain, while also practicing using a toothbrush independently.
Jordan Step 1 Baby Toothbrush
This is currently our favorite toothbrush! The shape is perfect so that it’s easy for your baby to hold and use. It also helps to prevent swallowing or gagging your baby while he’s brushing his teeth.
Parablic BabyHandy 2-Stage Sonic Electric Toothbrush
This is the next toothbrush that we want to get! I love how well my vibrating toothbrush cleans my teeth and want a good option for my baby as well. This one also comes with a timer to hep my baby understand how long he should brush his teeth.
Now I’d love to learn a little more about your experience with infant oral care!
Share a comment about your experience and tips for any new moms! When did you first start brushing your baby’s teeth? Did she like it or hate it? When did your baby first go to the dentist? How did it go?
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