- Before the teeth erupt, clean the baby’s mouth and gums with a soft cloth or infant toothbrush at bath time. This helps ready the baby for the teeth cleaning to come.
- When the teeth erupt, clean the child’s teeth at least twice a day with a toothbrush designed for small children.
- Take the baby to see a pediatric dentist by the baby’s first birthday. The earlier the visit, the better. It is important to establish a dental home to ensure that the child’s oral health care is delivered in a comprehensive, ongoing, accessible, coordinated and family-centered way by the dentist.
- If the baby is placed to sleep with a bottle, use nothing but water. When a child is given a bottle containing sugary liquids such as milk, formula or fruit juice, the teeth are under attack by bacterial acid for extended periods. This can cause cavities in babies called “early childhood caries,” formerly known as baby bottle tooth decay.
- Breast-feeding has been shown to be beneficial for a baby’s health and development. However, if the child prefers to be breast-fed often or for long periods once a tooth appears and other foods/beverages have been introduced into her diet, she is at risk for severe tooth decay. Clean the baby’s mouth with a wet washcloth after breast-feeding, and encourage a bottle with plain water during the nighttime.
2011 FAST FACTS
- Never dip a pacifier in anything sweet; it can lead to serious tooth decay.
- Wean the infant from the bottle by one year of age.
Reproduced with permission from The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry www.aapd.org