Parents are sometimes under the mistaken assumption that they don’t need to care as closely for their child’s baby teeth as they do their permanent teeth because they all fall out eventually. Nothing could be further from the truth. Children can develop serious dental disease due to poor oral hygiene that affects the health of their adult teeth. One of the most common inquiries we get from new parents is “When to start brushing baby teeth?” The answer may surprise you.

Good Oral Hygiene Habits Start with the First Tooth

The average age for babies to get their first teeth is between four and seven months of age. However, there is a wide range of normal. Some babies approach their first birthday without having a tooth erupt yet. When the teeth appear is not as important as taking proper care of them once they do. Until your child’s first birthday, plan to use gauze or a wet washcloth to clean the teeth and gums. This helps to clear residue left by nursing or bottle-feeding as well as soft foods.

When your child turns one, you can switch to using a small toothbrush with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to clean the teeth. You should not use toothpaste with fluoride just yet as your baby may swallow the toothpaste. If you sit your child on your lap and don’t scold or show stress, your child will come to associate tooth brushing as a positive event. Be sure to allow him or her to see you brushing your teeth often and offer lots of praise for cooperation.

Schedule the First Dental Appointment by Age One

The staff at Bay Area Kids Dentist prefers to see all children by their first birthday. This gives us the opportunity to detect any oral health problems early as well as counsel you on such issues as pacifier use, thumb sucking, and a healthy diet. Because we understand that a one-year-old may feel frightened at this new experience, we speak in an age-appropriate way and show appreciation for the child. We always encourage parents to accompany their child into an exam and to allow very young children to sit on their lap. The extra assurance from a beloved parent helps to make the first dental visit a positive one.