While you do not need to brush with a toothbrush or toothpaste until your child's teeth begin to erupt, you should clean their gums on a daily basis with a damp cloth.
Baby teeth usually start to erupt when children are between six and twelve months of age. These teeth are very important, as they help your child eat and speak, and eventually guide the adult teeth into the proper spaces.
Before the First Tooth
Each day, you should run a clean, damp washcloth over your baby's gums to wipe away harmful bacteria. Not only will this help keep their mouth healthy, but it gets them used to having their mouth cleaned and will make it easier to switch over to brushing when their teeth come in.
When the First Tooth Appears
As soon as the first tooth appears, you should start brushing with an infant toothbrush and fluoride-free toothpaste.
Baby teeth must be cleaned on a regular basis because, like adults, infants can get cavities too. Once your child has a tooth, plaque can begin building up on the surface of the tooth and causing decay.
Children should brush at least twice a day – once in the morning and once before bed. Flossing can begin once your child has two teeth side-by-side.
Tips for Oral Care of Baby Teeth
Even babies can develop tooth decay if good habits aren't practiced. By following these oral health tips, you can help your child's baby teeth remain healthy:
- Avoid putting a baby to sleep with a bottle. It might be convenient but can harm the baby's teeth. When sugars from juice or milk sit on a baby's teeth for hours, they can eat away at the enamel, creating a condition known as bottle mouth. If you do put them to bed with a bottle, try to use water instead of juice or milk.
- Teach your children good dental care habits early. When you show them how to take care of their baby teeth you are starting positive habits that will last a lifetime.
- Visit a dentist who provides children's services by the age of one year, or around the time when the first teeth appear. This will help preserve the baby teeth until they are ready to fall out and be replaced by the adult teeth.