7 Essential Products For Your Baby's Dental Care

We asked pediatric experts for a variety of colorful and effective washcloths, toothbrushes, and toothpastes to make brushing your baby or toddler’s teeth a little easier.

Two chatter teeth toys next to an array of toothbrushes and toothpastes made for babies

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Cavities, aka tooth decay, are the most common chronic health problem in children. About 40% of children will have tooth decay before they reach kindergarten

As a result, the American Dental Association suggests that parents and caretakers aim to get their babies and toddlers in to the dentist, even if they have only a few — or maybe even no — teeth. 

“A child’s first dental visit should occur within six months of their first tooth coming in or by their first birthday, even if they don’t yet have teeth by that birthday, whichever is earliest,” said Taylor McFarland, a board-certified pediatric dentist and member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, who is based in Virginia. “It’s often still not relayed correctly to parents by their family dentist or pediatricians, many are still told to wait until age 2 or 3.” 

And get ready, because you may need to help your child brush their teeth until they are about age 7, according to Matthew Harper, an associate at the department of dentistry at Boston Children’s Hospital. Taking care of kids’ teeth can help prevent cavities, pain, and infections, which can lead to problems in eating, speaking, playing, and learning in young children. 

“Tooth-brushing should be completed by an adult until the patient is able to tie their shoelaces in a bow,” Harper said. “Establishing healthy habits early in life will play a big role in prevention of dental disease.”

However, it’s not uncommon for children to be fussy during brushing, especially if they don’t like the taste of toothpaste or the feeling of having their teeth brushed. That means you may need to get creative to make the process a bit more fun (or tasty).

“We encourage letting the child have some say in which toothbrush is used as long as it is age-appropriate. If the child likes their toothbrush because it lights up, or because it’s red, their favorite color, or maybe because it has Peppa Pig on it, that will help motivate good brushing behaviors,” Harper said. “Linking tooth brushing with a positive activity — singing a song, watching a video — will help build trust and motivate.”

To help make the process easier for you and your child, we asked pediatric dentists to tell us some of their favorite toothbrushes and toothpastes, including fluoride and fluoride-free options.

If your baby doesn’t have teeth yet, you should use a washcloth with water to wipe the gums, cheeks, and tongue to help get rid of bacteria. McFarland recommends using a wet, soft washcloth to clean the mouth. 

These Burt’s Bees Baby washcloths are made with organic cotton material and come in a variety of colors and designs including Honey Bee, Little Ducks, and Rosy Spring.

“Got these last year and they have held up well. Not too thick, not too thin. One side is smooth and the other has more texture, both are soft though.” —Nicunurse83

You can buy a pack of Organic Cotton Washcloths from Burt’s Bees Baby for around $8. 

For babies who are starting to get teeth, McFarland recommends the Oral B Winnie the Pooh toothbrush. This type of brush works until molars start to grow in, she said. 

Not only is this toothbrush cute, with Winnie the Pooh and other characters in the design, but the standard toothbrush is designed for babies ages 0 to 3. The soft bristles clean and massage the teeth, while the brush head is designed to protect the gums. 

It also comes in a pack of four with several designs and colors to choose from. The product has been sold out on other sites like Bed Bath & Beyond and Buy Buy Baby, but is still available on Amazon

“My toddler was fighting me on brushing her teeth before this brush. She also would chew her old brushes until the bristles fell out and I had to take them. Ever since we got this brush she LOVES to brush her teeth and lets me do a thorough job before she takes over. The bristles are also staying strong much more than other brushes we’ve tried.” Brittany L. 

You can buy the Oral B Winnie the Pooh toothbrush from Amazon for $5, or the pack of four for $12. 

The Colgate My First Baby and Toddler toothbrush has extra-soft bristles and a small brush head made for children 2 years and younger. 

“A standard toothbrush is recommended for infants,” Harper said. “If you are brushing for 2 minutes, accessing all tooth surfaces including where the teeth meet the gums, you will achieve good plaque removal with either a standard toothbrush or an electric toothbrush.”

Reviewers seem to like them too.

“These are the smallest toothbrushes that I know of. Other brushes that say they are for toddlers are still not small enough for those little mouths. These are small and soft. The perfect very first toothbrush. And I continue to use them through 4-5 years old, even though they say younger on the package—just because the size is very comfortable for them.” —Crystal

You can get the Colgate My First Baby and Toddler Extra Soft Toothbrush from Target for around $5. 

As molars start to grow, McFarland recommended a toothbrush with triple-sided bristle pads to help children who want to start holding the toothbrush and brushing their teeth themselves. Since molars may be harder to reach, having more than one bristle pad can help clean those hard-to-reach areas at the back of the mouth. 

According to Specialized Care, this unique-looking toothbrush is designed for “fussy” toddlers up to age 5 and will help them brush all their teeth at the same time. Like other toothbrushes made for babies, this one has a soft compact head and bristles. The brush is also nonslip for a better grip. 

“My 8 month old has four teeth that he hates to have brushed. Being able to brush all three sides at once reduces the amount of squirming and crying that I have to deal with significantly. I also feel like I’m less likely to miss a spot.” JM 

You can buy the Specialized Care Co pack of four toothbrushes on Amazon for around $28. 

Dr. Bob Unflavored Toothpaste

Unflavored, all-natural toothpastes are great for children of all ages and adults with sensitivity to tastes, which is why McFarland recommended this plant-based product. This toothpaste doesn’t taste “spicy” and is a non-burning product that leaves no taste in the mouth. 

According to Dr. Bob, the fluoride-containing toothpaste can help with enamel repair, tartar control, cavity prevention, and reduced plaque. 

“Highly recommend this toothpaste !!! My son is very picky with flavors , having a toothpaste that a toddler likes is half the battle of getting their teeth brushed. It also is very effective in leaving him with a clean mouth and nice smelling breath,” My son loves brushing his teeth now and no more complaints about minty and spicy flavors . Amazing product!!!” Martin Rodriguez 

You can buy the Dr. Bob Unflavored Toothpaste from Amazon for around $10. 

Made for all ages, the Hello toothpaste might be another good choice for children who just don’t like the taste of toothpaste. According to McFarland, the toothpaste tastes like a slushie, which might be helpful for kids who’d prefer a sweet flavor. This toothpaste also doesn’t contain dairy or gluten, which might be a better option for kids who are sensitive or allergic to those ingredients. 

The toothpaste does contain fluoride but is still safe if swallowed. The AAPD updated its recommendations for fluoride, and small amounts should be fine. 

“The AAPD updated its recommendation in 2014 from no fluoride toothpaste under age 2, to a grain of rice or lateral smear of fluoride toothpaste until age 3, at which time it switches to a pea-sized amount,” McFarland said.

“My daughter has always brushing teeth because she didn’t like the taste of any toothpaste. After trying pretty much all of the kids pastes, this was my last ditch effort and thankfully, she loves it! We are on our second tube and brushing is no longer a battle.” —fsuchick97

You can buy the Hello Dragon Dazzle Blue Raspberry Fluoride Toothpaste from Target for around $6. 

For children who prefer mild-flavored toothpastes, Harper and McFarland recommended Tanner’s Tasty Paste. The paste helps prevent cavities and tastes like ice cream. 

It’s made for children 6 months and older, and works well for kids who don’t like the mint and cinnamon flavors found in other toothpastes. Instead, the toothpaste comes in sweet flavors such as Cha Cha Chocolate, Vanilla Bling, and Orange Creamsicle

It doesn’t have added sugar but does contain xylitol, a natural sugar-free sweetener that’s thought to help prevent cavities. It’s also gluten-free and contains fluoride. 

“We are on the second bottle, my little guys tried every generic flavor of toothpaste from Target, Meijer and Walmart… watermelon, berry, bubblegum, he hates them all! I was desperate, and hoped for the best with this stuff. It works so well, he doesn’t cry when it’s time to brush teeth, and he is actually excited to use it!” Onemamatwolittles

You can buy the Tanner’s Tasty Paste Baby Bling Fluoride-Free Toothpaste from Amazon for around $8. 

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