Toddler getting teeth brushed with blue toothbrush by parent

When to Start Brushing Baby Teeth

Team Pediatric Dentistry

Are you wondering what is the right age to start brushing your baby’s teeth? The short answer is to start brushing when the first tooth erupts through the gums. But there’s a lot more to the question of when and how to brush baby teeth

The truth is that it’s never too early to start taking steps to maintain your baby’s oral health. Even before a baby has teeth showing, their gum health is important. The teeth are already formed underneath the gums when the baby is still in the womb. Early oral care will help keep the unerupted teeth healthy and encourage them to come in properly. 

Follow this timeline for early dental care to give your baby the best possible start.

0-3 Months: Gum Care

Most babies will not have any teeth before the age of 3 months. Even if there are no teeth, it is still a good idea to clean the gums daily. This can be done with a clean, damp washcloth or a soft bristled toothbrush made for infants. Some infant toothbrushes are made of soft rubber and designed to fit over your finger to ensure only gentle pressure is applied. A small smear of fluoride toothpaste can be used with a soft bristled toothbrush twice daily when the first tooth emerges.

3-6 Months: Continue Gum Care and Begin Tooth Brushing

Many babies will still not have any teeth at this age, but some start to get teeth by the age of 6 months. Continue to clean the gums with a washcloth or consider starting to use an infant toothbrush at this age. Brushing the baby’s gums can help relieve teething pain and encourage tooth eruption. If any of your baby’s teeth have erupted by this age, brush them with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste twice a day.

6-9 Months: Continue Gum Care and Begin Tooth Brushing

There is a greater chance that your baby will have at least one or two teeth that have erupted by this time. However, it is still perfectly normal for your baby not to have any teeth showing yet at this age. If there are not yet any teeth showing above the gum line, continue brushing the gums once a day. If there are one or multiple teeth showing, brush those teeth twice a day with a small smear of fluoride toothpaste on an infant toothbrush.

9-12 Months: Brush Those New Teeth

By now your baby likely has a few teeth that have erupted through the gums. It is important to brush those teeth twice a day, always with just a smear of fluoride toothpaste, as well as the gums where there are not yet any teeth showing. If your baby still does not have any teeth by their first birthday, there is still no cause for alarm. But regardless of the number of teeth your baby has, at this age it is time to consider making your baby’s first dental appointment.

12-18 Months: Keep Brushing and Seeing Your Dentist

As your baby’s mouth fills up with teeth, it is important to keep up with a regular brushing routine of at least twice per day with fluoride toothpaste. Try to encourage your little one to develop the habit of spitting after brushing. If your baby still has no teeth by 18 months, be sure to make an appointment with your dentist to discuss delayed tooth eruption.

3-6 Years: Encourage Self Care with Assistance

At this stage children should start to learn to brush their own teeth. It is recommended that the amount of fluoride toothpaste be increased to a pea-sized amount on an age appropriate toothbrush. You will still need to assist your child with brushing at this age to ensure they are brushing effectively. Encourage your child to spit out extra toothpaste and avoid swallowing it.

Start Your Baby On the Road to Dental Health with ABQ Pediatric Dentistry

Getting an early start with your baby’s oral care sets them up for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Make an appointment with us when your baby’s first tooth erupts or by their first birthday. We regularly work with the smallest of patients and have the experience necessary to help them feel at ease.  

Call 505-888-3520 today to schedule your first visit or request an appointment. We look forward to helping your baby get a positive start to a lifetime of dental health.