Do Babies Need Toothpaste?
Before babies get their first tooth oral hygiene is still important but there is no need to use toothpaste. However, once that first tooth comes through you should start brushing daily using a toothpaste specially formulated for babies.
Brushing babies teeth can become tricky if babies squirm and wriggle so making sure you have everything you need to start as soon as they get their first teeth, and even earlier to get them used to the feeling of something in their mouths, can be really helpful in making this vital habit as painless as possible.
Oral Hygiene Before Babies Cut Their First Tooth
Before they have teeth or a tooth at least, there is no need to use toothpaste. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be thinking about good oral hygiene, keeping their gums healthy and getting them used to the routine of having something in their mouths.
When they are very young before the teeth come through you can simply wipe their gums with a clean damp cloth, special tooth and gum wipes, which are also really handy to have in your bag for brushing emergencies even after they get teeth, or a special silicone finger brush.
Making it part of their routine as early as possible should help when they get bigger and have trouble staying still long enough to let you brush.
Once Babies Teeth Come Through
While you can keep brushing with water for a little while, once babies have a few teeth you should start using a specially formulated baby toothpaste to brush their teeth and gums. Toothpaste should be used sparingly, especially if you have chosen a toothpaste that contains fluoride. This is because while fluoride is good for protecting the teeth against cavities it can give you an upset stomach if swallowed.
You should be aiming to brush your baby's teeth twice a day for around two minutes. You might not get much brushing done at first, especially when they only have a few teeth. The important thing is to get them used to tooth brushing being part of their routine.
You can also set a good example by letting them watch you brush your own teeth morning and evening so that they realise this is something that everyone does.
Although you should start using toothpaste as soon as they have teeth you are only using a tiny smear until they are around 3 years old. Think the size of a grain of rice rather than a pea. This helps to stop them from swallowing too much as it’s very hard to stop little children from swallowing, even if you tell them.
Brushing Babies Teeth with Toothpaste
The easiest way to brush a baby's teeth is to have them on your lap with their head resting against your chest or in the crook of your arm. You should brush in small circular motions ensuring you cover the surface of all teeth as well as the gums with very gentle pressure.
Encourage children to spit the toothpaste out when you are done so that they are not swallowing the toothpaste.
Next Up: Should Baby Toothpaste Have Fluoride?