Caring for Baby Teeth

Good oral hygiene must begin very early in a baby’s life. There are many things parents can do to ensure that their child’s teeth and gums are healthy.

FAQs

How should I properly care for my child’s teeth and gums?
Starting at birth, wipe the baby’s gums with a soft wet cloth or a soft-bristle infant toothbrush and water, especially after each feeding. Begin brushing when the first tooth erupts. Continue to clean and massage the gums in areas that remain toothless.

When all of your child’s baby teeth have erupted, brush your toddler’s teeth twice a day, preferably once in the morning and once before bed. This should always be done under the supervision of an adult to ensure that your child does not accidentally swallow the toothpaste.

Talk to your dentist about fluoride and establish healthy eating habits for your child. Offer fruits and vegetables for snacks instead of sweets.

What is baby bottle tooth decay?
Baby bottle tooth decay is a condition caused by overexposure to sugary liquids, such as formula and juice. Each time a sugary liquid is consumed, acid attacks the teeth for at least 20 minutes. After repeat attacks, the teeth are susceptible to decay.

When should I make the transition from bottle to sippy cup?
Parents should encourage their child to drink from a sippy cup, instead of a bottle, around their first birthday.

Is it okay to let my child fall asleep with a bottle or sippy cup?
No. This is the primary cause of tooth decay. Also, children who drink while lying down are more prone to ear infections.

When should my child first see the dentist?
Visit a pediatric dentist when the first tooth erupts between six-12 months of age and continue regular visits every six months.

Resources

American Dental Association: Baby Teeth
American Dental Association: Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
News Release: The Importance of Children's Oral Health