Baby’s First Tooth: Before and After

image of baby with toothbrushMany parents don’t often think before the first tooth erupts about teaching their child good dental habits. Thinking about infant tooth brushing, though, may make parents think more of a wrestling match than calmly teaching a child about proper dental care. Parents can see a first tooth anywhere from 3 months to 12 months, though the average age for the first tooth to appear is around 7 months. Starting to care for your baby’s mouth even before his or her first tooth comes in will help make tooth brushing a positive experience from the start.

Before the first tooth and after, parents should carefully wipe baby’s teeth and gums with a clean gauze pad, or gently brush teeth and gums with a special toothbrush just for baby. For a tutorial on how to successfully brush your baby’s teeth, from first tooth until she can do it herself, watch Dr. J and his son model in the video “How to Brush Your Baby’s Teeth.”

After the first tooth comes in, focus on brushing where the teeth are. Also brush baby’s gums and tongue, but be careful not to push the toothbrush too far into baby’s mouth or he will gag. After brushing those pearly whites, or before brushing if baby is fussing, let your baby explore the tooth brush. This will help baby get used to this tool which should be used every day for life. Remember, the goal is to help baby learn good dental habits now – like daily tooth brushing and flossing – so that he is equipped to do it successfully himself. Your positive calm attitude about brushing baby teeth will help make the experience positive for baby too. Model your own good dental habits for your kids too. Read more about here about 5 Tips to get your child brushing.

Additionally, give infants and young children good, nutritious foods – not a lot of sugar, which can lead to tooth decay. Also, don’t’ send baby to bed with any sweet or sugary drinks in his bottle. Baby bottle tooth decay happens when sugar pools in baby’s mouth, so it’s best to limit sweet drinks like juice and milk to mealtimes.