The Right Way To Clean Your Baby’s Teeth
The stages of baby teeth:
The first set of teeth erupts when your baby is about 6 months old; they’re usually the middle two on the bottom gum. Around 8 months, the middle teeth on the top gum come in. Two teeth on each side of these show up at around 9 to 10 months. Then four teeth erupt every four months, until all 20 are present by age 3. As children differ, so do the way they grow; don’t be alarmed if your baby’s teeth don’t appear in this exact order.
Cleaning your baby’s mouth:
Before your child’s teeth come in, wipe their gums off after each feeding with a warm, wet washcloth or a dampened piece of gauze wrapped around your finger. You can also buy thimble-like, soft rubbery devices (they fit over your index finger) to use for rubbing off excess food.
The teeth cleaning process:
Once teeth are visible, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends smearing a drop of fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice on a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head. Use this to clean your baby’s teeth twice a day, gradually increasing to a pea-size amount of paste. Nighttime brushing is most important for avoiding cavities. To prevent your child from ingesting too much fluoride, which leads to a condition called fluorosis, wipe out any residue while brushing. When your baby’s teeth touch each other, it’s time to start flossing them.
Avoiding baby bottle tooth decay:
Another important part of good dental hygiene is preventing a disease commonly called baby-bottle mouth, which can lead to the loss of primary teeth. It usually develops in babies who are routinely put to bed with bottles of milk (or worse, juice), and it’s notorious for causing cavities. Never leave your infant with a bottle for long periods of time, especially if you notice they’re no longer feeding and are just using the bottle for comfort. If they must have a bedtime bottle to relax, fill it with plain water.