You don't have to start brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush until your baby's teeth first start to erupt but, you should clean their gums every day.
Generally, baby teeth start erupting when infants are between six and nine months old. These teeth are essential because they allow your child to speak and eat, and eventually guide the adult teeth into the proper positions.
Before the First Tooth
Proper dental care actually begins before your child's first tooth appears. Each day, you should run a clean, damp washcloth over the gums to wipe away harmful bacteria.
By cleaning your baby’s gums daily right from the beginning, you are ensuring that, by the time your infant’s first tooth comes in, you and your baby are already used to regular mouth cleanings. Furthermore, because every baby teethes a bit differently, it can sometimes be difficult for a parent to tell when their baby’s first tooth is beginning to breakthrough.
When the First Tooth Erupts
You should start brushing your baby's teeth with an infant toothbrush and fluoride-free toothpaste as soon as the first tooth appears.
Baby teeth need to be cleaned regularly because, just like adults, infants can also develop cavities. As soon as your child has a tooth, plaque can start building on the tooth's surface and cause decay.
Children should brush at least twice a day – once in the morning and once before bed. Flossing can begin once your child has two teeth side-by-side.
Oral Care Tips For Baby Teeth
Even babies can develop tooth decay if good habits aren't practiced. By following these oral health tips, you can help your child's baby teeth remain healthy:
- Avoid putting a baby to sleep with a bottle. It might be convenient but can harm the baby's teeth. When sugars from juice or milk sit on a baby's teeth for hours, they can eat away at the enamel, creating a condition known as bottle mouth.
- Teach your children good dental care habits early. When you show them how to take care of their baby teeth you are starting positive habits that will last a lifetime.
- Visit a dentist that offers children's services by the time your infant is one year old, or around the time when the first teeth start erupting. This helps maintain the baby teeth until they are ready to fall out and be replaced by the adult teeth.