Brushing Your Baby’s Teeth: When, Why, and How

Congratulations on your new arrival! We know this is an exciting time, but it can also be challenging as you navigate your baby’s development. Though we recognize every baby’s development is unique to them, there are some tips and guidelines we can share when it comes to your baby’s dental growth and health.

You may wonder, for example, when you should begin brushing your baby’s teeth? Dr. Christine Landes, or Dr. Chris, as her pediatric patients call her, recommends that brushing begins at the sight of your baby’s first tooth. This is also the time she advises you schedule your child’s first visit to a pediatric dentist.

Among a host of tips, recommendations, and insights into your child’s individual dental development, Newtown Dentistry’s pediatric team can share with you details of the teething process, how to establish a good dental routine early on, and when and specifically how best to brush your baby’s teeth. We have also put together an eBook titled “What Parents Need to Know About Pediatric Dentistry in the First Year” to help you get started on the right path to good oral health for your baby. Download it here. Here’s a quick rundown on some of the highlights of your baby’s dental development.

Teething: The First Signs of an Emerging Tooth

One dental milestone that you can expect in the first few months of your baby’s life is teething. Teething is when your baby’s teeth start emerging from their gums. This usually begins around 6 months of age, although it can start as early as 3 months or as late as 12 months. Some babies may not get their first tooth until they are 12 months old, while others may have several teeth by 6 months. It’s important to remember that teething is a natural process and every baby is different.

Baby boy at his first dental visit being held by dentist.Signs and Symptoms of Teething

Here are some signs and symptoms that your baby may be teething:

  • Drooling
  • Fussiness
  • Irritability
  • Chewing or biting on things
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Visible teeth edges

At-Home Soothing Methods

There are several things you can try at home to help soothe your baby while they are teething, including:

  • Massaging their gums with a clean finger or a damp cloth
  • Giving your baby a teething ring or cold, damp cloth to chew on
  • Placing a cold spoon on the baby’s gums
  • Trying an over-the-counter infant pain reliever

Establish a Dental Routine Early in Life

Proper baby dental care is really not that complicated and is made much easier with an early start. Establishing a simple dental routine with your child and remaining consistent with it will go a long way in helping your child maintain healthy oral habits for a lifetime, contributing to their overall health and well-being.

Here’s a simple checklist of healthy oral hygiene habits for your baby:

1. Pre-First Tooth Care: Keeping Gums Clean

Image of happy infant sitting in dental chair at the dentist’s office.Beginning around 3 months old, keep your child’s gums healthy by carefully wiping them with a clean, soft, damp cloth, gauze pad, or finger brush. Gently wipe the gums and the front of the tongue after meals and at bedtime—after the last bottle or nursing session.

2. First Tooth Care: Brushing Infant Teeth

As soon as your baby has a tooth, it’s time to start showing your baby how to brush their teeth. Use a child’s toothbrushone with small, soft bristles and an easy-grip handleand a tiny amount of toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice). It’s best to watch your child brush until they learn to spit out toothpaste. Brush at least twice a day.

3. Flossing

As soon as you see two teeth touch, flossing should start. Floss at least once a day.

4. Dental Checkups

Dr. Chris recommends that you schedule your child’s first dental appointment as soon as their first tooth appears and definitely by their first birthday. Then make routine visits at least twice a year for a checkup and cleaning.

5. Nutrition and Baby Teeth

Limiting sugary snacks and drinks is important to your child’s overall well-being and oral health. Sugar that stays on a tooth’s surface can contribute to the development of cavities. It’s also best to brush baby teeth after sweet treats.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that families have a dental home, a practice they consistently visit for comfort, minimized dental anxiety, and increased quality of care. Contact us for more information or to schedule your baby’s appointment at our dental home.


    Newtown Dentistry

  • DATE

    March 22, 2023


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