Baby Dental Health 101
When (and How) You Should Start Brushing
Your little peanut has sprouted her first tooth! Technically, you’re supposed to rub her gums with a clean, damp cloth before those pearly whites break through, but now’s the time to start brushing for real. Use a soft-bristled baby toothbrush and gently clean her tooth (or teeth) with just water, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Sweeten the deal with flavored “training” toothpaste sans fluoride. Though opinions differ on when to switch to children’s fluoride toothpaste (some docs suggest waiting until she can spit, around age three or four), the AAP now says to use a grain-of-rice-size amount as soon as she gets her first tooth.
Flossing Starts How Soon?
Floss your child’s teeth when two baby teeth touch (check back molars first)—which can happen when they’re as young as two, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). You have to do it for them when they’re little ( since they won’t master it until they’re around 10). If regular floss is too tricky, try floss sticks or picks.
When Should You Take Baby to the Dentist?
It might seem too early to even think about a trip to the dentist, but you should take baby by the time she gets her first tooth, or turns a year old (whichever comes first), advises the AAP. A recent Pediatrics study found most parents don’t follow that recommendation—less than one percent took her to the dentist before her first birthday, and only two percent went before she turned two.