Early Infant Oral Care Topics and Questions
Before Your Baby Has Teeth
Preventative dental habits are effective well before your baby’s first tooth comes in. Start by cleaning their mouth with a clean, damp washcloth after each feeding, gently massaging their gums. Here are several other tips for maintaining your infants teeth even before the first tooth erupts.
- Visit your dentist regularly.
- Brush and floss on a daily basis to reduce bacterial plaque.
- Proper diet, with the reduction of beverages and foods high in sugar & starch.
- Use a fluoridated toothpaste recommended by the ADA and rinse every night with an alcohol-free, over-the-counter mouth rinse with .05 % sodium fluoride in order to reduce plaque levels.
- Don't share utensils, cups or food which can cause the transmission of cavity-causing bacteria to your children.
- Use of xylitol chewing gum (4 pieces per day by the mother) can decrease a child’s caries rate.
Once a Tooth Comes In
Use a small finger brush or toddler toothbrush to clean each tooth, making circular motions across the entire surface (and next to the gums.) Use a rice-grain sized smear of fluoridated toothpaste. As your child gets older and can spit/rinse on their own, it’s safe to progress to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
Your Child’s First Dental Checkup
Plan to book your baby’s first visit with one of our kids’ dentist near you by their first birthday, even if they don’t have any teeth yet. These early visits:
- Help your child associate dental care with a positive environment
- Give you resources to care for your child’s health
- Intercept problems when they’re easier (and less invasive) to correct
- Reduce your child’s chance of dental pain, infections, or emergencies
Thumb and Finger Sucking, Sippy Cup Use
Extended finger sucking, pacifiers, using a bottle, or relying on a sippy cup can permanently alter your child’s oral anatomy. It’s best to discourage such habits by the time your toddler is 2 years old. See Dental Kidz Club for tips on how to make this transition as easy as possible!
A Danger to Your Child’s Smile
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (early childhood caries) is a rampant oral infection that can cause severe cavities and abscesses in infants. It is usually caused by putting baby to bed with a bottle or sippy cup of milk or juice, or allowing the child to sip on one frequently throughout the day.
To reduce your child’s risk of rampant tooth decay, do not give them anything besides water to drink between meals. Never put baby to bed with a bottle. When they fall asleep, the liquid will pool around their teeth, leading to erosion in their enamel.