With all the crying, fussing and chewing on everything while teething, the last thing most parents tend to think of is Dental health. With their first tooth usually appearing around 6 months old and sprouting more teeth until around 3 years old, ongoing dental health is an important part of creating healthy routines with our babies. So when should you begin brushing babies' teeth?
Even before that first little tooth appears, you can begin to start good dental habits with bub by getting them use to the feeling of brushing. From around the 3-month-old mark, you can begin to stimulate their gums by gently rubbing a damp cloth or gauze across their gums to emulate the sensation of brushing. A teething little one may also enjoy the feeling and begin to chew on the cloth to help soothe their painful gums. This habit also provides you the opportunity to monitor their teething feeling for swollen gums and protruding teeth.
As soon as that first tooth breaks through, you should begin brushing, particularly after feeding. The best way to begin brushing is to invest in a rubber bristled toothbrush or a rubber finger brush that has little rubber nubs over it. Rubber is a soft material that is not only comfortable for bub, but non-abrasive like firm bristled toothbrushes which should be avoided. If your little one is clearly distressed during this time, you can revert back to the soft cloth, making sure to gently rub the teeth as you move. You can also begin introducing a small amount of fluoride toothpaste to the routine, with a rice grained sized amount on the rubber toothbrush. This can increase as more teeth arrive, up to a pea sized dollop once all teeth are present. The toothbrush should be replaced every 2-4 months regardless of the number of teeth due to bacteria build up.
It may seem like a bit of overkill brushing a single tooth or a few growing tiny teeth, but early tooth decay can interfere with speech development and placement of adult teeth as the baby teeth provide a positioning guide for the adult teeth when they come through. You can work to circumvent tooth decay in babies by avoiding adding sugar to their diet (if on solids) or by dipping their pacifier in honey etc to encourage them to suck when distressed. It is also suggested that you don’t but your baby to bed with a bottle for self-soothing, as when asleep the production of saliva is limited which is what helps to wash away deposits on their teeth. Leaving baby with a bottle in bed also poses choking risks and is not a suggested feeding practice at all.
To create good brushing habits, you can:
- Don’t force the routine, some babies just hate the sensation, whilst it is important to create good habits, we don’t want to reinforce negative relationships with dental health.
- Sing along while brushing, not only will it help with measuring the time spent brushing but will work to distract bub as well as encourage mouth movement while the brush is in there.
- Monkey see Monkey do! Brush your own teeth at the same time, bub will begin to form an association wanting to mimic their favourite persons behaviours as well.
- Let them try to hold the toothbrush and chew on the brush to encourage independent development.
You can also take bub to see a dental professional right from the moment the first tooth emerges and should be beginning regular check-ups by the time baby is 12 months old. Good dental hygiene practices will not only protect your baby from future issues, but also create good developmental routines and behaviours as bub develops.
Chewing is a great way to stimulate saliva in your babies’ mouth, which helps to wash away any food or milk residue which when left in bub mouth can contribute to teeth decay in baby teeth. Encouraging little ones to chew whenever possible is essential to their dental hygiene and Mizzie is here to help.
Both Mizzie and mini Mizzie are designed to be chewed on and are ready to help your baby not only soothe their aching gums but once teeth are through, the natural rubber helps to scrub teeth as well as stimulate saliva production to help your little one wash away any nasties between brushing.