Do we have to brush our 8-month-old's teeth?
Q: Our pediatrician says we should be brushing our 8-month-old's four teeth. Do we really have to? They're just going to fall out.
A: Even though these first teeth will fall out naturally, it's important to take good care of them. In fact, most experts recommend that parents begin a mouth-cleaning regimen even before baby teeth erupt. Wiping a baby's toothless gums with a wet washcloth removes surface bacteria that can cause plaque.
Once those first teeth have come in, switch to a soft toothbrush, which you can use on both the teeth and the gums. When your baby is 1 year old, you can add a pea-size dab of fluoridated baby toothpaste. "It's fine just to use water until that first birthday," says Dr. Curtis. (If your drinking water contains no fluoride, ask your pediatrician whether you need a supplement.)
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, your baby should have his first dental checkup by age 1, just to make sure his teeth are coming in properly.