You may think that you don’t need to worry about your baby’s teeth until they have a full set of pearly whites, but it’s important to start early to set the foundation and tone. You may be surprised to know that you can begin to clean your baby’s gums twice a day from birth.
It’s recommended to start at a young age to clean baby’s gums after feeding. This helps to establish a good oral environment ahead of the appearance of baby’s first tooth. A toothbrush is not necessary when they have no teeth. Instead, a clean damp cloth can be used or even a soft silicone finger brush is a good place to start, and they might enjoy the experience.
You can start to brush their first tooth from the moment it comes through. It might even soothe if they’re teething, although they’re likely to bite down. It’s fine to use a clean damp washcloth or finger brush to gently wipe the tooth or teeth and tongue after meals and at bedtime. Most manufacturers label children’s toothbrushes according to age, so pick the most suitable and ensure you change it if the bristles become bent. Bamboo toothbrushes can also offer a soft and environmentally friendly option. It’s nice to start that routine from a young age, so it’s well established by childhood. Make it a fun and rewarding experience, don’t worry too much about technique at the start, it’s more to get them in the routine. Aim to brush twice daily and no more than three times daily.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that’s essential to prevent tooth decay. It’s found naturally in drinking water, and is considered so important, that they add it to areas that have lower levels, to make protection constant throughout the UK. It’s added to toothpaste for the same reason, but excessive fluoride can damage tooth enamel in the growing milk teeth of babies and young children. When baby has a first tooth, fluoride toothpaste is ok but use no more than a smidge on the brush. Encourage them to spit the toothpaste out each time, but if baby swallows it instead, it’s usually such a small amount that this shouldn’t cause any harm.
Most manufacturers label toothpaste as suitable for particular ages, as they contain a safe amount of fluoride in them. They are also likely to only have a subtle flavour, as most babies and children don’t like the zingy mint taste that we like as adults. By the age of 3, they can have a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Aquafresh Milk Teeth is a fluoride and calcium toothpaste for babies up to 3 years old, and Aquafresh Little Teeth takes them from 3 to 5 years old, with slightly more fluoride and more targeted as sugars they’ve probably started eating, but there are a number of options in the pharmacy or supermarket.