By: Gregor McPherson

Teething. Part 3.

How do you brush your baby’s teeth? 

We are lucky because our baby Connor just loves having his teeth brushed, watch the video below to see him in action. However, at Talk to a Dentist we understand that brushing your baby’s teeth can be difficult. So what is the best way to brush a baby’s teeth?

The simple answer is to find a comfortable position for you and your baby. In the video you can see that we started by brushing Connors teeth when he is lying on his back. We are using a small, rubber, finger toothbrush with a smear of toothpaste. When Connor gets a little older we will start to sit him upright and brush his teeth from behind. I will post a video of this in a future blog when he is a little older. 

When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?

As soon as the tooth appears in the mouth you should start brushing it, this is usually around the age of 5-6 months. 

Should you still brush your baby’s teeth even if they are teething?

Yes, you need to get fluoride on the teeth so do it gently with your finger or a rubber, finger toothbrush.

What type of toothpaste should I use on my baby?

We would recommend a fluoride toothpaste, containing between 1000ppm to 1500ppm fluoride. You can find out the fluoride content of your toothpaste by looking at the ingredients list on the tube. It may be one number or two numbers you need to add together to get the total fluoride content. Some toothpastes advertised for babies may contain less fluoride, we would not recommend using these. 

Is fluoride dangerous for my baby?

No, the volume of fluoride found in toothpastes is not harmful to your baby. The risks of pain and/or swelling from dental decay which can happen if you don’t brush your baby’s teeth are much bigger problems to worry about. 

Ideally when your child is old enough get them to spit out any excess toothpaste. If your child swallows large amounts of fluoride they can get fluorosis, which can lead to discoloration of the teeth. Large amounts of ingested fluoride can cause stomach issues or toxicity however this is very uncommon and your child would have to ingest several tubes of toothpaste for this to happen.

Always remember “Spit Don’t Rinse!” You want the toothpaste to be in contact with the teeth in order to remineralise them, if you rinse your mouth out with water after brushing you will reduce the effect of the fluoride on the teeth. Imagine you do a painting and then throw a bucket of water over it at the end. All the paint runs off. Think of the toothpaste as being like the paint and we want it to stay on the teeth. 

How much toothpaste should I use?

For children under three use a smear of toothpaste and for children over three use a pea sized amount. 

How often should I brush my baby’s teeth?

You should brush your baby’s teeth twice a day. Once in the morning and once at night before bed.

How long should I brush my baby’s teeth for?

It is recommended that you brush your baby’s teeth for 2 minutes. However this is the time recommended for a child with a full set of primary teeth (20 teeth). Therefore I would recommend adjusting the timing appropriately for the number of teeth your baby has. 

Should I brush my baby’s teeth before or after feeding?

In an ideal world you would brush your baby’s teeth after feeding, however most babies go to sleep at night straight after a feed. So we would recommend brushing your baby’s teeth in the morning after their feed and at night just before their feed.

When should I start taking my baby to the dentist?

As soon as your baby is born we would recommend getting them registered with a dentist and taking them along for a check up. Even if they don’t have teeth your dentist can talk to you about oral hygiene and diet advice. It also gets your baby used to going to the dentist. 

At what age do I let my child brush their own teeth? 

Children under the age of 9 usually don’t have the manual dexterity to brush their teeth properly. The test I usually use is to ask a child if they can tie their shoe laces, if they can then they are ready to start brushing their own teeth. We would always recommend mum or dad check to make sure they are doing it properly and for long enough. 

What do I do if my child wont let me brush their teeth?

Start by trying to make the whole process as fun as possible and get them involved. Start by letting them choose their own toothbrush. Lots of toothbrushes now have cartoon characters on them. You could also buy them a children’s electric toothbrush. In the evening you could consider brushing their teeth in the bath as this may make it more fun. You can even sing a tooth brushing song or play a tooth brushing video on your phone to encourage them to brush. If you are still finding it hard take them along to see a dentist or call us here at Talk to a Dentist.

Posted in Children

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