Baby toothbrushes are specially designed for smaller, more delicate mouths, and often have features that make them easier for babies and parents to use. Consider these factors when shopping for a baby toothbrush.
Size: Purchase a toothbrush specifically made for babies. Make sure it is made to fit in small mouths and is comfortable for parents to hold and use, since the AAP says you’ll be doing most of the brushing until your child is 7 or 8.
Design: Bright and bold or soft pastels, the specific color isn’t important. What matters is that what you choose is fun and engaging to your child. Similarly, yhere are a lot of toothbrushes on the market designed with familiar characters to make brushing more fun.
Special features: Some toothbrushes come with a blinking light or vibrations that will shut off once the recommended time of toothbrushing is done. Others come with handles that make them easier for babies to hold, or anti-choking guards that prevent them from going too far into a baby’s mouth. These features may or may not make your life easier, so consider whether you want to pay a premium for them.
Should I use toothpaste for my baby’s teeth?
The AAP and AAPD recommend using a rice-grain sized dab of kid friendly toothpaste containing fluoride as soon as your child’s first tooth emerges. Once children are 3 to 6 years old, says the AAPD, parents should increase the amount of toothpaste to pea-size. After brushing, children should spit out, not swallow, excess toothpaste.
Should baby toothpaste have fluoride?
Both the AAP and AAPD consider fluoride essential to fighting cavities and decay. They recommend using fluoride toothpaste as soon as you can see your child’s first tooth. If your family’s drinking water does not have added fluoride, you should ask your pediatrician about fluoride supplements.
At around 6 months, the AAP says your pediatrician will begin examining your child’s teeth, and will apply fluoride varnish about every 6 months until age 5. (If your child’s at risk for decay, they may apply every 3 months). This fluoride varnish is gently painted on the teeth, doesn’t hurt, and can help prevent and slow down tooth decay. Public and private health insurances cover this treatment as preventative care for all children; if you are insured, it will not cost you anything out of pocket.
How often should I replace my baby’s toothbrush?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends replacing your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the brush looks worn out.
When can my baby brush their own teeth?
The AAP says your child should be able to brush their teeth between ages 7 and 8, but you should still supervise until age 10.
When should my baby go to the dentist?
Both the AAP and AAPD recommend your baby see the dentist once the first tooth emerges, or before their first birthday, whichever comes first.
Jenn Bonnicelli and Meghan Hertzfeldt contributed to this story