In all honesty, it’s unlikely that Baby is going to look forward to tooth brushing time. As a matter of fact, it’s something that many parents struggle with. But when it comes to things like brushing teeth, you gotta do what you gotta do. Here are some ideas that may make your tooth brushing time a bit more comfortable for all involved.
- Right out of the gate
Baby’s teeth are vulnerable to plaque and cavities from the moment they start to peek their way above the gum-line, but he may not be overly into brushing if his first try comes right in the middle of his first round of teething pain. If, on the other hand, he is used to having his gums wiped with a clean cloth after eating, a toothbrush may not feel like such a big next step. Baby also wants to do what you do. If you let him see you brushing your teeth, he may want to join you.
- Find the brush that fits just right
Baby toothbrushes that work best for young mouths have soft bristles and small brushes, as well as big, grippable handles, for when Baby starts to reach the point where he has the ability to start brushing on his own. If Baby doesn’t react well to a brush at the very beginning, or if you’re having trouble navigating such a little mouth with a brush, a clean gauze pad wrapped over your finger with a little water and a smear of toothpaste will work for a while, too.
- The great fluoride debate
As of February 2015, both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend using a rice-grain-sized smear of fluoride toothpaste with Baby as soon as his first teeth come in. This contradicts previous ADA advice to wait on fluoride until Baby’s second year, when they recommended diving right in with a pea-sized dollop (the current recommendation advises waiting on the pea-sized amount of toothpaste till Baby hits 3).
The change, the ADA’s report explained, had to do with the rapid rise in cavities in children under 5 (the NIDCR cites tooth decay as the most common chronic childhood disease in the US). Too much exposure to fluoride still carries the risk of fluorosis, a chalky white discoloration on Baby’s teeth as they grow in. Small amounts of toothpaste, and wiping Baby’s mouth for excess toothpaste that he may not be able to spit out yet after brushing can help combat this risk.
- Sit down and make yourself comfortable
It may take a little while to figure out the most comfortable way to sit or stand with Baby while tooth brushing, and the most comfortable positions may change over time as Baby grows. You may be most comfortable facing Baby, or holding him on your lap with both of you facing a mirror.
- Mountains out of molar-hills
When Baby’s back teeth start coming in, he may not feel entirely comfortable with the toothbrush making its way into the back of his mouth. This may be because the sensation feels like a choking risk, so a slow, gradual move from front teeth back to his molars may help offset this feeling.