What are the best baby toothbrushes?
Your baby worked hard to push out their first teeth. Now that they have a growing set of teeth, you can instill healthy dental habits during their earliest years. Good dental health starts with daily cleanings, and that requires a toothbrush.
Made of food-grade silicone and designed with soft bristles that will massage your baby’s tender gums, the Baby Banana Bendable Training Toothbrush is a great first toothbrush. It will introduce your baby to the sensation of brushing their teeth and make it easier to create good habits.
What to know before you buy a baby toothbrush
You can expect to see your baby’s first teeth come through between 6-12 months. The bottom front teeth are most often the first ones, followed soon by the top front teeth. And so the 34-month process begins.
Starting with that first tooth, you will need to begin caring for your baby’s dental health. One of the first things you should do is schedule their first appointment with a dentist. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends making this appointment before they reach 12 months.
Seek out a pediatric dentist who will check all your baby’s teeth to make sure they are developing normally and coming in properly. They can also identify any dental problems before they require significant intervention.
You should also start paying attention to your baby’s fluoride intake. Fluoride is a mineral that prevents tooth decay by hardening the enamel on your baby’s teeth. By 6 months, the pediatrics academy recommends adding fluoride to your baby’s diet. Luckily, it’s frequently added to municipal water supplies, meaning your baby gets a dose anytime you give them a drink of water.
You should also start using a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. All you need is a drop about the size of a grain of rice. Brushing your baby’s teeth with a fluoride toothpaste is especially important after their last food or drink of the day.
When your child turns 3 years old, increase the amount of fluoride toothpaste you use to a pea-sized drop. It’s a good idea to have the caregiver dispense the toothpaste until your child is around 6 years old. You should also monitor your child’s brushing until they are 8-10 years old.
Another step you can take involving fluoride is fluoride varnish. This is a recommended treatment as soon as your child has teeth. Typically it’s simply brushed on the enamel and can be done either by your child’s dentist or, if you don’t have one yet, their pediatrician.
One of the main reasons fluoride is so heavily recommended is tooth decay. Although your baby’s teeth are brand new, they are still susceptible to tooth decay. In fact, it’s categorized as a chronic infectious disease, the most common one in childhood. Also known as early childhood caries, nursing caries and baby-bottle tooth decay, it can develop even with the first tooth.
Tooth decay can happen for several reasons. The underlying cause is an infection in your baby’s mouth caused by acid-producing bacteria. These bacteria can easily be passed from you to your baby through saliva. Things like sharing feeding tools, testing food before sharing it with them and cleaning off their pacifier with your own mouth can all accidentally spread bacteria.
Another common cause of tooth decay is sugar. When your child frequently or consistently has any liquid other than water, they will be more likely to develop tooth decay. The sugars in these liquids change once they interact with the bacteria in your baby’s mouth, creating an acid that eats away at the outer part of the tooth.
The most common way this happens is from giving your baby a bottle to go to sleep. Even milk, though it’s generally thought of as healthy, has natural sugars that, if allowed to pool around your baby’s teeth, can convert into acid that decays their teeth.
Preventing tooth decay
Getting your child in a routine of daily oral hygiene is crucial. So are regular visits to the dentist, who can identify and treat tooth decay early to prevent it from spreading.
You also need to set an example as the caregiver. Reestablish focus on your own oral health. Then work on creating certain habits within your household.
Resist the urge to put your baby to bed with a bottle unless it has water, and start working on teaching them to drink from a regular cup. Ideally, by the age of 12-15 months, they should have this ability. With a regular cup, they are less likely to experience liquid collecting around their teeth — and a regular glass can’t be taken to bed.
Also, move to only serving your child water during the day. You can still give them milk at mealtimes, but the majority of their liquids should be water. You can check with your municipality to see whether or not your tap water is fluoridated.
Finally, watch the amount of sugary, sticky foods you serve your child. If they frequently snack on these types of foods, they will be exposed to far more sugar and the risk of tooth decay goes up.
Cleaning your baby’s teeth
The most important thing to do: keep your baby’s teeth clean.
From birth to 12 months old, regularly wipe your baby’s gums with a wet washcloth. This plants the seeds of good oral hygiene habits, soothes aching gums and clears their mouth of dangerous bacteria. Once their first tooth emerges, switch to a baby toothbrush with a dot of fluoride toothpaste.
As they grow and develop, their oral hygiene practices will grow with them. Between 12-36 months, brush their teeth twice every day for 2 minutes each. The best times are directly after breakfast and right before bed. Of course, for this to be effective, you need a quality baby toothbrush.
Types of baby toothbrushes
There are several types of baby toothbrushes to choose from, each useful during specific stages of your baby’s oral development.
The first is a gum brush. Typically, these slip onto the finger and have a toothbrush-like side with short nubs or bristles to clean the gums and any recently erupted baby teeth.
After that, use a teether toothbrush. These clean the mouth and any teeth while also soothing gum pain. With these, you won’t need toothpaste.
Then it’s time to get their first baby toothbrush, a tiny toothbrush with bristles. Now you start using a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste — about the size of a grain of rice.
A more recent development in this space is the baby and toddler electric toothbrush. It looks similar to an adult electric toothbrush and works in the same way. This will give your baby a more thorough cleaning with less work.
Finally, once they reach the toddler years, it’s time for a toddler toothbrush. This looks and works like a standard manual adult toothbrush. Once they reach age 3, increase the amount of toothpaste to a pea-sized drop.
Age of child
Before you buy a toothbrush, consider how old your child is. If you have a 2-year-old, a teether toothbrush won’t be appropriate, just like a toddler toothbrush isn’t appropriate for your 6-month-old.
Electric vs. manual
Manual toothbrushes have been around for generations and for good reason: they work. And both styles require you to teach your child the correct way to brush their teeth. But an electric toothbrush gives a much greater chance for a thorough cleanse that doesn’t miss any spots.
What to look for in a quality baby toothbrush
Your baby’s toothbrush should have soft bristles. As their teeth are budding and breaking through, their gums will be sensitive and tender. The soft bristles will gently massage them and still provide a thorough cleaning without irritating their skin.
If you’re choosing a gum brush, teether brush or first-baby toothbrush, there are plenty of options that use silicone bristles. They massage the gums well and are gentle on painful teething buds. But it’s important you choose one with food-grade silicone. This ensures it’s free of any chemicals and uses the safest materials on the market.
Many baby toothbrushes and toddler toothbrushes feature a wider handle. Choosing one like this makes it easier for your child to hold onto the toothbrush and work it around their teeth. This creates a less frustrating, more rewarding experience.
Make sure your baby’s toothbrush is free of bisphenol-A, or BPA. The National Institutes of Health says BPA is implicated in many kinds of long-term impacts on human health, including hormone disorders and cancer.
How much you can expect to spend on a baby toothbrush
To get a quality baby toothbrush, expect to spend $3-$20. At the lower end of the price range are manual toothbrushes. At the higher end, you can get an electric toothbrush or sets of multiple toothbrushes.
Baby toothbrush FAQ
What kind of toothbrush is best for babies?
A. The toothbrush that will work best for your baby depends on the stage of their oral development. A gum brush is designed for mouths that are mostly gums, but it can still effectively clean a couple of teeth. Teether toothbrushes are good for babies with several teeth. Finally, you will introduce them to their first baby toothbrush. This should happen as soon as possible to ensure good oral hygiene.
When should a baby start using a toothbrush?
A. As soon as your baby’s first tooth breaks free and emerges from the gum line, it’s time to start using a stage-appropriate toothbrush. (Before that, wipe your baby’s gums and mouth with a wet washcloth to keep them clean and germ-free.)
How do I choose a baby toothbrush?
A. Always factor in your baby’s age — even a few months can make a difference. However, more important is the habit you create. Your child has to use whichever toothbrush you get or there’s no point to the purchase.
What are the best baby toothbrushes to buy?
Top baby toothbrush
What you need to know: Made of food-grade silicone and molded into a fun shape, this is a toothbrush your child will enjoy using.
What you’ll love: Recommended for babies up to 12 months, this training toothbrush is easy to hold, and it’s BPA-free, so you won’t have to worry about your child’s safety. Cleaning it is as easy as throwing it in the dishwasher.
What you should consider: Some have noted a plastic smell immediately upon opening.
Top baby toothbrush for the money
What you need to know: It’s shaped like a giraffe or a whale, so your child will fall in love with it, and learning good oral hygiene habits will be a breeze.
What you’ll love: The ultra-soft bristles and comfort grip handle make this toothbrush extremely functional. It’s also BPA-free and meant to grow with your child up to age 3.
What you should consider: The bristles won’t hold up to chewing, a common habit for toddlers learning to brush their teeth.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: For the best chance of your toddler getting their entire mouth clean, try this electric toothbrush.
What you’ll love: Because it uses gentle sonic vibrations, it will soothe and massage your child’s gums as their teeth come in. It claims to reduce plaque by an extra 21 percent and has a 2-minute timer light to teach your child how long they should be brushing.
What you should consider: There are some complaints that the plastic can’t hold up to very much, leading to the toothbrush breaking if dropped or bitten hard.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Kasey Van Dyke writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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