When those first tiny pearly whites arrive and your little one can give you a toothy grin for the first time, it’s a real milestone moment. But those chompers don’t just mean even cuter smiles, they also mean it’s time to brush up on a whole new part of parenting.
When and how to start brushing your baby’s teeth
As soon as your baby’s first tooth bud erupts, it’s time to start brushing. When this will happen can vary greatly. It’s not unheard of for babies to be born with a tooth, but some babies don’t get any gnashers coming through until they’re at least one.
Some people choose to clean their baby’s mouth and gums after feeding even before any teeth pop up. If you decide to do this, it’s best to avoid using a normal toothbrush. Use a soft, damp cloth or special silicone brush that fits on your finger instead.
Once the actual teeth come along, you can use a very soft, small baby toothbrush and hardly-there smear of baby toothpaste to brush gently all around the teeth in small circles. Encourage them to spit any toothpaste out afterwards, but don’t worry about rinsing because it’s important to let the ingredients in the toothpaste stay in the mouth to do their job.
After use, rinse the toothbrush with clean water and allow it to air dry in a holder where it can stand up without coming into contact with other toothbrushes. The advice from dental professionals is that there’s no need to sterilize your baby’s toothbrush or wash it in the dishwasher (unless the packaging specifically states you can) as this may damage the bristles. If you’d like to give the brush a bit more of a thorough clean, rinse it with warm or hot water. Don’t forget to replace your baby’s toothbrush at least every 3 to 4 months and sooner if the bristles start to stick out.
How to get into good teeth cleaning habits
Baby’s learn almost everything from watching their parents and families. So, it makes sense that if you want your baby to pick up good oral hygiene habits, think about how you can show them a good example from the very early days. Even though they will eventually lose all their baby teeth, they are really important for establishing the alignment, spacing and health of permanent teeth.
Talk to your baby about what you’re doing when you brush your own teeth and make it look like the most fun thing in the world! As soon as you start brushing their teeth, try to keep it a consistent part of their daily routine, so they start to learn it’s just as important as eating and sleeping.
Once you’ve helped your baby understand what tooth brushing is and how you do it, try to brush their teeth twice a day: just before they go to bed and another time during the day that works for you.
Like everything with a baby’s routine, there will be some days when it all goes to pot and trying to clean their teeth before bed will be one step too far for everyone. Don’t worry, all is not lost. The key thing is establishing good habits generally, not stressing out about doing it perfectly every single time.
Find the best baby toothbrush for your little one
From soft finger brushes to help soothe teething gums to bright character brushes to get older babies excited about tooth brushing – there’s a huge range of toothbrushes to choose from.
Brushies are little finger puppet brushes that the parent wears. Made from food-grade silicone, they’re suitable to use from just four weeks old and come in four different animal designs. You can buy them separately, in a set of four and with an accompanying book.
Mr Van baby teether and toothbrush is a really cute dual-purpose cactus shape – but thankfully without the spikes! It’s made of soft silicone with little bristles to help sooth baby’s sore gums and make cleaning easy when their first teeth appear.
The Nuby 4 Stage Oral Care Set has you covered for all stages of baby tooth brushing from a silicone massager and gum cleaner to a nylon bristle toothbrush. It comes in lots of different colourways with its own stand to help keep brushes clean and dry.
Jordan Step 1 baby toothbrush is a super kid-friendly option with really bright colours and a paddle-shaped handle making it easy for little hands to get to grips with. The handle also doubles as a teether and the colored bristles show you the tiny amount of toothpaste you need.
If you want to know more about oral hygiene for kids and why it makes sense to start as early as possible, take a look at our teaching your kids to brush their teeth blog.