Once your baby's teeth start emerging, it is safe to start brushing them. Typically, this is around the one-year mark.
However, there are different schools of thought; some dentists even advise waiting until age 2 or 3.
So, what's the right approach for your baby's oral health?
In this article, we'll examine the evidence and explain everything you need to know about when to start brushing baby teeth with toothpaste.
Brushing Without Toothpaste First
Historically, pediatric dentists and the American Association of Pediatric Dentists have recommended that parents use water to brush their baby's teeth until around the age of 2.
The rationale was to prevent children from swallowing too much fluoride before they could safely and reliably spit it out.
This is because consuming excess fluoride has been associated with negative side effects, especially while a child's teeth are still developing.
Thankfully, newer technologies in pediatric dentistry have led to the emergence of nano hydroxyapatite as a safer alternative remineralizing agent to fluoride toothpaste.
Now, some dentists approve the use of fluoride-free toothpaste on your baby's gums and teeth to build healthy habits and prevent tooth decay.
Potential Benefits of Earlier Toothpaste Use
There are a few advantages to brushing your baby's teeth with toothpaste, such as:
Strengthening enamel on erupting teeth
Reducing the risk of dental caries once teeth emerge
Introducing healthy oral hygiene habits and skills at an earlier age
That being said, parental supervision and proper technique are key when you begin brushing baby teeth.
Toothpaste Considerations and Precautions
Getting ready to brush baby teeth for the first time?
Here are some important considerations:
Use a small amount of toothpaste for kids under 3 - they can graduate to a pea-sized amount when they're ready
Choose a fluoride-free children’s toothpaste or toothpaste with low (500ppm) fluoride
Closely monitor brushing to ensure they don't swallow any excess paste.
Gradually phase in toothpaste from 6 months up to age 2
Further, be wary that the adult toothpaste you use to brush your own teeth may not be suitable for your baby's teeth.
If you'd like to use the same toothpaste for the whole family, note that adults can use kids' toothpaste safely.
Signs Your Child is Ready for Toothpaste
There are some key indicators to keep in mind when deciding if your child is ready to start brushing with nano hydroxyapatite toothpaste:
Teeth have started erupting from your baby's gums
Your child is able to actively participate in brushing motions
Your child has developed the ability to spit out their toothpaste instead of swallowing
Your baby is exhibiting early signs of tooth decay
As you monitor your baby's dental health, keep an eye out for these signs and start brushing baby's teeth accordingly.
Proper Brushing Technique is Key
Whether you're using toothpaste or not, it's essential to maintain proper brushing technique and use the right dentifrice.
For example, using gentle pressure and a soft-bristled toothbrush can protect your baby's mouth as its teeth begin to emerge.
Visit Your Pediatric Dentist
Given the varying range of opinions on proper brushing age, it may be wise to consult your local pediatric dentist.
Be sure to schedule your baby's first visit around their first birthday or when their first tooth erupts.
At this time, your dentist will be able to factor in your child's oral development and motor skills to help you decide when the right time to start brushing is.
Summary: When to Start Brushing Your Child's Teeth
As research evolves, most dentists suggest beginning brushing your baby's teeth with fluoride-free toothpaste or no toothpaste at all between ages 1 to 3.
This timeline can vary among children and is highly dependent on when the first baby tooth erupts and the baby's ability to spit out their toothpaste.
When in doubt, you can always consult your local pediatric dentist to determine the right time to introduce brushing.
Further, a kids toothpaste made with fun, natural flavors can improve your child's brushing experience.
Overall, creating a fun, consistent routine and setting your child up with proper oral hygiene habits will serve them well throughout life.