How to Clean Your Baby’s Teeth – Tips From A Dentist

Toddler brushing her teeth

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You know that your baby is growing up once those little teeth start to come through!  Did you know that you that those little teeth need care and attention just like your teeth?  Yes, It’s true.

Just like you want you to maintain your smile by keeping your teeth clean, your baby’s teeth need that same care.  

Also, getting your baby into the habit of cleaning their teeth at a young age makes them grow up with good oral hygiene instilled in them.

Let me share with you a few quick tips on keeping your baby’s teeth clean.

Keeping up with your baby’s oral hygiene starts before their first teeth comes in.  Just taking a damp washcloth or gauze pad and wiping their gums is enough. This also helps keep that baby breath away.

Most babies get their first tooth around 6 months.  But you may find a few little ones that develop later and don’t get their first tooth until 12 to 14 months.

As soon as a baby’s tooth appears, there is a possibility of developing cavities.


Cavities or tooth decay is caused by the destruction of the hard outer layer of the tooth called enamel by bacteria.  Plaque is the white, sticky film that contains these cavity-causing bacteria.

Plaque forms on your teeth, as well as baby teeth, every day.  That is why it is important to maintain good oral hygiene daily.  

Whenever you eat or drink foods with sugar, the bacteria in the plaque produce an acid that, over time, destroys the enamel and causes a cavity to form.

Formula and breast milk have sugars that can feed the bacteria that cause cavities.  This is why cleaning your baby’s teeth daily is so crucial.

Cleaning baby teeth

You can continue using a damp washcloth when the first teeth come in.  Remember to wipe the little teeth in addition to your baby’s gums. Your baby may even find relief from teething discomfort by having you rub their gums.

You can also use disposable wipes.  These wipes come in handy when your baby is going through those periods of feeding frequently.  

Some of my favorites are Spiffies and Tooth Tissues by Baby Buddy.  These wipes have a very mild taste. And they also contain xylitol.

Xylitol is a sugar found in nature.  Unlike other sugars that cavity-causing bacteria like, xylitol is a sugar that the bacteria have a hard time with.  And as a result, the bacteria end up dying off. This decreases the chances of developing cavities.

Finger toothbrush

Finger toothbrushes are another way to get your baby’s teeth clean and also provide a massage to those gums.  This really can come in handy during teething.

You can use some of the training toothpaste to make tasty and enjoyable for your little one.  

The yummy taste of the training toothpaste is helpful if you find that your little one is becoming resistant and not wanting to open their mouth.  

The training toothpaste tastes great and your baby will want it every time.

Just like with the damp washcloth, you want to gently rub your baby’s teeth and gums gently.


Using a toothbrush design for infants is another way to keep those baby teeth clean.  Make sure to use a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles specially designed for babies.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends brushing with a “smear” of fluoridated toothpaste on children 2 years old and younger.


What’s the deal with fluoride?  Fluoride is found in many toothpastes and mouth rinses because it aids in preventing cavities.

Remember the cavity-causing bacteria eats sugar and produce acid that breaks down enamel? Well, fluoride comes in and remineralizes those areas that the bacteria started to break down with the acid.  

Think of it like this: your tooth is swiss cheese after being attacked and fluoride is like cheese that comes in and fills the holes.

If you have other questions or concerns, make sure to consult with your child’s pediatric dentist.  If you don’t feel comfortable using a fluoridated toothpaste, you can continue using the training toothpaste or a non-fluoridated toothpaste like Tom’s.

Tips for avoiding tantrums with brushing

For your little one that doesn’t like brushing their teeth or throws a tantrum when it is time to brush their teeth, you are not alone.  Here are a few tips to avoid the tantrums and make brushing more enjoyable.

Brush gently

Make sure that you are brushing your little one’s teeth gently.  You don’t need muscle to remove the soft plaque that is on their teeth.  If you are too aggressive it can hurt and cause your little one to be resistant to brushing their teeth.

Use training toothpaste

The training toothpastes taste really good and will make brushing seem like a treat.  Your baby may want to suck all of the toothpaste off and that is fine.

Try brushing without the training toothpaste at first.  After getting in there for a few seconds, place the training toothpaste on the toothbrush and try to brush a little more.

Get excited

Make brushing their teeth fun by getting excited.  Kids feed off of your energy. If your little one sees that you are happy and excited, they will mimic that behavior.

Make it fun

There are songs for putting your child to sleep, cleaning up and so much more.  You don’t have to go and learn a new tooth brushing song. You can sing your own original song!  

Or come up with a fun dance.  Anything that you can do to make the experience fun will make tooth brushing a positive and decrease the chances of a tantrum.

There you have it.  You have everything that you need to keep your baby’s teeth clean.  Make sure to make it a daily habit to practice good oral hygiene to set your little one up for success.  

Also be sure to have your little one in for their first dentist visit by their first birthday for a well baby check with your local pediatric dentist.

Social media graphic of toddler brushing her teeth with text a mom + dentists guide to cleaning baby's teeth      Social media graphic of toddler brushing her teeth with text how to clean your baby's teeth tips from a dentist

About the Author

headshot of young, smiling womanToni-Ann is a wife, mom of two boys, dentist, and blogger at Real Happy Mom.  She enjoys spending time with her family and watching WWE.  Toni-Ann is most passionate about helping other moms and making motherhood easier and more enjoyable through her 5-day self-care challenge for moms.  You can find Toni-Ann on Pinterest and Facebook daily.

5 thoughts on “How to Clean Your Baby’s Teeth – Tips From A Dentist”

  1. WOW! This is exactly what I needed. My son is 14 months old and we are in the process of trying to establish a regular routine and he’s not having it. I will try using either the wipes or the washcloth for the time being. Hopefully he will get with the program real soon.

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