I mentioned before that as part of our mommy connections class, we met with a baby/child dentist. I read a lot of baby dental care related questions in online forums, so I was glad to have a talk with a specialist. When should I start brushing baby’s teeth? How often should I brush baby’s teeth? What tooth brush to choose? Sooo many questions…
Key things she shared with us:
– You need to start brushing baby’s teeth as soon as they erupt. I have a mom friend who said her wake-up call was when her baby girl laughed and she saw her teeth were brown on the inner side. Another mom friend shared that she didn’t give much thought to this until she noticed her baby had morning breath.
– It might be a good idea to start with oral care even before then: wipe baby’s gums with a piece of cloth. There are also these weird little things that you put on a finger – it’s not quite a tooth brush, but it has some sort of rubbery bristles. That way the baby will be used to you poking around his mouth and less resistant to the idea. We were lucky: Timothy loves brushing his teeth! As soon as he sees his tooth brush, he open his mouth wiiiiide 🙂
– In Canada, there’s enough fluoride in tap water for baby teeth brushing. All a baby (or a toddler, for that matter) needs is a toothbrush and water. Tooth paste can be used only once they are at the stage where you can be sure they know how to spit up and know better than swallow the paste, around age 3. Until then – water will do. There also are training tooth pastes available, with no fluoride (thus safe for swallowing). But a baby doesn’t need that 🙂
– There are soft tooth brushes for babies with a long handle – for you to brush their teeth. Once they express interest in brushing their own teeth, there are ones with a shorter handle; that’s safer. Of course, you’ll still have to brush their teeth, too – until about 6-8 years old. A good guideline that their fine motor skills are developed enough to brush their own teeth is the ability to lace up their shoes and to colour within line.
– Bedtime routine adjustment. Most important time to brush teeth is in the evening, before bedtime. That made me change around Timothy’s bedtime routine. I used to finish off with nursing (he stopped falling asleep while nursing quite a while ago – I always put him in his crib awake) – but what’s the point of brushing teeth and then nursing? So when Timothy was a bit over 7 months old (he got his first tooth precisely at 7 months) we made the switch. First nurse, then brush teeth, then diaper change + pj’s on, then hubby reads book and puts Timothy to bed. I was worried about him falling asleep – but it went perfectly smoothly. Timothy lay awake for a bit longer the first night or two, a bit more alert, but then he got used to it.
– First dentist visit, as per their recommendation, should be around one year old, just for a check-up. Hmmm, I don’t know about that. All of the above recommendations make sense to me and were confirmed by further reading/discussion. This piece of advice? Well, felt more like marketing line “come and see us soon”. Although I did see information that way too many children develop cavities before they turn two or something like that. But I think with proper dental care – brushing teeth after eating/before bed – we should be fine.
What do you think? When should be the first dental visit?