Toothbrushing for Infants
We recommend starting to practice toothbrushing around 4-6 months old nightly, as part of the bedtime routine. This is good for both you and your baby, as you are setting yourselves up for a lifetime of good habits. Initially, before the teeth erupt, a washcloth or finger brush are perfect introductions for your baby. They are beginning to experience the world through their mouth and will enjoy this new, gentle sensation.
When your baby starts teething, they may become more resistant to “brushing.” You can use a cool, wet washcloth for more of a soothing feeling during that time. At this point, brushing is not expected to take a long time. The goal is merely familiarizing your child with the feeling and establishing a healthy routine.
As soon as the teeth have popped through the surface of the gums, it is time to pay more attention to what you are doing. Make sure you are wiping off any plaque from the day. You can also start using a soft bristle brush made for infants.
You should also start using a toothpaste with fluoride for your child once teeth are present in their mouth. The most important part is to use the correct amount. Aim for a grain of rice sized amount, or a small smear on the bristles. The topical fluoride is critical for cavity prevention in the outer layer of baby teeth. The small amount your child will ingest is safe in that quantity and will contribute to strengthening the enamel (outer layer) of the developing adult teeth in their jaw bones. DO NOT use a “drop” of toothpaste like you would on your own brush. That quantity is not safe until your child can reliably spit out the toothpaste (typically around age 3).