Beginning Tooth Care
Do you really need to start thinking about tooth brushing when your baby won't have any teeth for ages? Well, yes, actually, you should start thinking about tooth brushing now. You need to get your baby used to having her gums cleaned before her teeth come in. The first few times you try it, she's likely to bite you, and you're much better off getting those bites over with before they can draw blood. Still, it's not likely to be fun.
The best toothbrush for an infant is a gauze square (sold in the first-aid section of a drugstore) wetted with plain water. It's amazing how much gunk this can remove.
An alternative is a fingertip brush — a brush with rubber bristles that sits like a cap over your finger. You can also go straight to a toothbrush; infant toothbrushes are very soft. (The downside is that they are quickly chewed into oblivion.) Hold your baby against you when you brush, facing into a mirror so you can see what you're doing — and your baby always enjoys mirror time. Your baby is less likely to clench his mouth shut or wriggle away than when you come at him from the front.
What you don't want to introduce at this point is toothpaste. Babies will swallow it, and swallowing excess fluoride can damage the enamel of the teeth yet to come in. That said, babies over six months of age do need a certain amount of fluoride in their diet to prevent future cavities. If the water in your community is not fluoridated, you can purchase bottled water that is or ask your pediatrician to prescribe fluoride drops for your baby.
What can I do now to make tooth brushing fun for my baby?
The following tips will make tooth brushing fun for both of you: babies love to imitate, so brush your teeth in front of your baby before you try to brush his teeth, name your baby's teeth and sing to them while you brush, look for something silly hiding behind your baby's teeth.