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How Do I Clean Baby's New Teeth?

Is it important to clean baby's new teeth? How do I do it safely?


Is it important to clean baby's new teeth? How do I do it safely?

The Bump Expert

You may be wondering why it’s important to clean baby’s teeth when she’s just going to lose them in a few years anyway. Well, look at her baby teeth as benchwarmers -- these first chompers hold the place for baby’s adult teeth. If they’re unhealthy or deformed in infancy, chances are her adult teeth will have some trouble growing in properly. And tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in US children.

So, now that you know why baby’s teeth must be cleaned, how do you go about cleaning only a tooth or two? Gentle is the key word in dental care as baby’s teeth are still soft and sensitive. You can put a damp, clean gauze pad on your finger and gently wipe baby’s teeth, or use a washcloth. They even make disposable finger brushes specifically for babies (ask your pharmacist or dentist for recommendations). A baby brush with no more than three rows of soft bristles is also okay and should be available at major drugstores. If you do go this route, change the brush every two to four months because even though you can’t see it, bacteria are there.

Babies also don’t need as much toothpaste as you do. In fact, too much fluoride is toxic to their system. Remember, babies don’t spit; they swallow, so fluoride in water combined with fluoride in toothpaste can be dangerous. The American Academy of Pediatrics recenetly backed earlier recommendations from the American Dental Association, deciding that cleaning baby's new teeth with a shmear of fluoride toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice) is safe. By age three, you can upgrade to a pea-sized amount.

While brushing twice a day is sufficient, it doesn’t hurt to wash baby’s teeth after meals and before bed. Make sure to also wipe the front of his tongue because it’s a haven for germs. Just don’t go too far back because he’ll gag.

When should baby go to the dentist? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends “first visit by first birthday,” but in the meantime, you should keep baby’s diet healthy. For example, watch her sugar intake (including natural and artificial) and make sure she gets calcium, phosphorous, fluoride (yes, small amounts are okay), and vitamin C (good for the gums). And never let baby sleep with a bottle -- the sugars from breast milk and formula will rot her teeth. Serve juice watered down and in a cup so it spends less time on her teeth. And, if baby is on solids, add some cheese at the end of a meal: It encourages saliva production, which can wash away cavity-causing acids and sugars from the mouth.

Plus, more from The Bump:

Dealing With Teething

How to Teach Toddler to Brush Teeth

Top 10 Teething Toys

Jennifer Shu, MD, pediatrician with Children’s Medical Group P.C. in Atlanta and author of Heading Home With Your Newborn (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010)

re: Q: Cleaning baby’s new teeth?

I was just wondering how and when to brush today! My son has one tooth just now starting to show.

J+O |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?


ShyneDiaz |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

I have a 1wk old, when do i start cleaning her mouth?

Dannyswifey10 |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

You're not serious are you...1 MOnth and you're worried about brushing?

Ridgebackmom |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?



Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

I have a one month old and I've been making sure to wipe out her mouth after feeding and burping her...nothing wrong with that

J.L.H |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

me too! my baby is a month old and i was told if she gets used to having her mouth cleaned now it will be easier to start cleaning her teeth when they come in so i wipe out her mouth every time i feed her.

belsmommy |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

I have a four month old and I've been wiping out his mouth since about three weeks. Mainly so he will be used to it.

makichandes |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

I 'brushed' my sons' gums early on in his life. It set the tone for regular tooth brushing right from the start. I'm not sure when I started, but it was definitely long before he had any teeth. He is 22 months old now and has all his baby teeth and is starting to cut the 2 year molars. I brush his teeth twice a day, then hand over the toothbrush and let him attempt to do it himself. He asks to brush his teeth before bed - by starting early, it got him and me into the habit of doing it regularly.

ZZsmommy |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

I think that is a good idea. My son is 15 months and it is almost impossible to get inside his mouth. Starting early would have gotten him used to the routine at an age when he would have let me do it more easily

whereisholly |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

I use the baby toothpaste and finger brush with my daughter who is 6 months old. She knows now when she sees the "toothbrush" that its time to brush and she opens her mouth. I have been doing for about a week. She doesn't have any teeth but she is cutting teeth. She really enjoys it.

MeaganRae3910 |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

I am a pediatric dental assistant, and we see all to many kids with rotten teeth. Start wiping their gums and tongue off right away, and as soon as the first tooth appears, make sure you are removing all the plaque at least twice a day. We recommend parents laying their child on their back with their head in their lap to get them used to a the scenario at the dentist office. The article says that watered down juice is ok, but it is NOT. If you are going to give juice, it doesn't matter if it is watered down or not, just make sure it is restricted to once or twice a day, and only at mealtime. We recommend breakfast time, and after that either water or milk (again only at meals). ANY kind of sugar that sits on your babies teeth WILL cause tooth decay. This includes those convenient snacks for little babies that are simple carbohydrates. Goldfish, gummies or fruit chews, and juice are the biggest culprits for childhood tooth decay. Stick to water if you can, and feed your child whole food snacks. If you have to give juice or a sugary snack, brush their teeth! And do it well. Babies gums need to be brushed too.

Babymama0623 |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

I wiped my sons mouth with a damp rag when he was a couple of weeks old. Now I'm brushing his gums and tongue with baby oracle toothpaste. It works wonders. He's so used to it that it doesn't even bother him.

Bmolano |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

Just to clarify; watering down juice is not necessarily for dental care, but rather is easier on young tummies than the "full-strength" juice.

Laura_Elaine |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

Being a stay at home mommy I did alot of things with my son on my hip...including brushing my teeth. He would just watch me so interested and try to take my tooth brush. I got out his and dabbed a small bit of baby paste on there and let him go at it. I made sure to scrub his top and bottom teeth well along with his back gums. That was at about 6 months and he is 13 months now. I still hold him on my hip and we brush together! At 13 months he has 12 teeth...including the 4 molars that are all breaking through at one time :) He is still happy though!

thehalecrew |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

yeah, from the day I brought my baby home the doctors told me to wipe her mouth out every feeding with a warm wet cloth, that way she had a smaller chance of getting thrush! Its healthier for them too! Would you want to go a day without brushing your teeth??

ankadlec211 |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

This is probably a pretty stupid question to ask, but for those of you who use a wet cloth, how often do you clean it/use a new one? Can you use the same one for both wipes in a day, or can you stretch it out longer?

snogash |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

i thought it was important to clean even her gums because they can get cavities even before they get teeth. Is this true? I clean my 4 month olds teeth ever since she was 1 month...

amrstrawberry |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?


mamaluly |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

so far she has 2 and i don't see a reason to clean her teeth right now. its not like she eats loads of garlic or onions with her formula. So no I have not started cleaning her chompers yet. As soon as she starts eating regualr food yes I will, In the meantime she;s good without my cleaning it.

nettatc |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

DD bites me every time I try to brush in the back. I don't think she realizes that these new teeth hurt mommy's fingers. We've switched to a big kid toothbrush.

mmarsac |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

I thought the first visit should be around 2 or 3 yrs old. One seems pretty early.

nikkibs |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

My girl is 16 months and has 10 teeth, and has only in the last few weeks started to really have a problem with my cleaning them. Since she started teething her molars, she doesn't want me anywhere near her mouth. She's becoming really independent (as she should be) and I encourage her to do things on her own, but when I give her her toothbrush, she just sucks on it and her teeth are not actually getting clean. And when I try to do it for her she screams and fights me. Any ideas?

etreisz |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

This is still so difficult for me and 3 yo, but I just took him to the dentist for the first time last month (big mistake, should've gone earlier but it was fine with my daughter) and found out he needed 2 crowns and had a couple other cavities. I was devastated, so even though I still have to force him to brush his teeth, I do it bc I know the consequences.

nikkibs |

Q&A: Cleaning baby's new teeth?

I usually just brush his teeth at night before bed time. He has 11 teeth now. I will try to brush his teeth in the mornings now too

ambreyn |