You have likely been brushing your teeth for a really long time now. In fact, if you think back, you probably don't remember the first time you did. You can recall many times being told by your parents to brush, panicked adult moments in which you've forgotten, and extra particular instances leading up to the dentist. The first time though? That's way back. So, at some point between now and when your teeth first came in, someone started brushing for you. It follows that, at some point, you're going to have to start for your little one.
There are dozens of products out there to make this transition safe and easy for you. From cute little self-directed brushes that double as teethers to topical gels that need a little assistance, you might go through a couple of products in order to find what works for you. I tried two NUK brand products aimed at baby's pearly whites and here are a few of the pros and cons of each:
Gum & Tooth Wipes:
For my taste, this is an odd, and seemingly unnatural way to do the job, but it sure does. The fibrous cloth has a mild cleansing agent and a slightly course texture with which you can rub your baby's gums. Although extremely portable and convenient, an older baby will immediately baulk at a cloth of any kind coming at his or her face. They've been around the block a few times with post-dinner face washing and nose blowing by now. A more inexperienced baby might like the gentle scrub, but beware how forward their gag reflex is located!
Infant Tooth & Gum Cleanser with Finger Brush
This cute set feels more like brushing and differentiates itself from the large assortment of wipes we now all posses. The rinse-free gel is sweet tasting, which makes it appealing, and the finger brush quickly becomes an understood part of bath time. I feel it is targeted at the young eater, rather than someone exclusively nursing, but rubbing a younger baby's gums without the paste might also be soothing when teeth are just about to cut. It is a convenient way to apply a topical numbing agent, such as baby Orajel as an added bonus. It's not the easiest thing to keep in your diaper bag, as the brush needs to be kept crumb and hair free (ideally), but kept at a diaper station or with the bath set works extremely well.
In short, they could both play a part in your developing oral care routine, or used as stepping stones one into the other. If you only bought one, I strongly recommend the cleanser with the finger brush, but at approximately $6.00 each, they are competitively priced. Infant tooth care sets are sometimes priced well over $30.00 due to organic ingredients and multi-purpose brushes. This seems downright crazy, if you ask me. Just as your 16 year-old driver does not need a brand new Mercedes (unless you had unlimited funds), so too does your young eater not need top of the line dental products.
There is no definitive rule for when it's time to start, and as with most firsts, deciding when is tricky. Babies can start teething extremely early, with drooling and irritability abound, and yet not show teeth for months. Some babies, like my son, seem to sprout multiple at a time, and sometimes with little warning. As long as you're starting with an infant-safe product, you can start whenever you're comfortable. The gum massage can be soothing, and it's good practice both for you and your child that this is part of the hygiene routine.