Do I Have to Brush Baby’s First Tooth?

Baby's first tooth

Kavi and her little half-tooth grin.Last week, after months of teething, baby Kavya’s first toothfinally erupted. It’s really cute, half a tooth really, sitting primly on the bottom of her little smile.

And boy does she love to use it. To take a “bite,” she snags her cookie or other random food on it, then pulls to tear. Or she gnaws on her carrot for half an hour, really working that little tooth like she’s sharpening it for future use.

I know, now that the first tooth has arrived, the teething is only going to get worse. And given the wear-and-tear she’s already giving the first one, I thought I should find out if there’s anything in particular we should be doing to care for Kavi’s tooth — and future teeth, too.

So I checked in with a dentist.

Luckily, we’ve got an excellent one in the family.

“The best thing to do after new baby teeth erupt is to use a finger brush or a toddler brush to care for the teeth and gum tissue,” says Dr. Neil Charaipotra, DDS, a partner at Northern Virginia Dental Associates in Springfield, Virginia. (And my cousin!) “It is usually recommended to use nothing on the brush, or a fluoride-free toothpaste. Orajel makes a baby toothpaste that is safe for little ones to swallow.”

Fluoride, apparently, is usually plentiful in tap and some bottled waters, so babies, who need a minimal amount, get enough from those resources if they’re already downing H2O. “If you do not have fluoride in your local water supply, it is alright to use just a tiny smear of fluoride containing toothpaste on the brush,” says Dr. Charaipotra. “Quite simply, brush gently on the inside and outside surfaces of the teeth twice a day. Some even advocate a quick swipe of the tongue with the brush to minimize bacteria that causes bad breath.”

Voila, that’s it! Brushing your baby’s little teeth and tongue will help them maintain that sweet baby breath that everyone loves so much.

Kavi’s not super-fond of brushing so far (and she absolutely hates when we try to wipe her little nose), but she’s getting used to it. And developing good tooth hygiene habits now will keep her adorable little smile healthy and bright later. Plus, she’ll be ready for when Uncle Neil visits and inspects her gap-toothed grin!

What hygiene habits are you instilling in your little teether? Is your little one “brushing” yet?


Image via Navdeep Singh Dhillon

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