Dental Care for Infants & Toddlers
- The sooner the better! Before teeth erupt, wipe your baby’s gums with a wet washcloth after each feeding. After the first tooth erupts, use a soft bristle toothbrush to clean all teeth. Begin using a pea sized smear of fluoridated toothpaste at age two. Use floss as soon as your child has teeth that touch.
To reduce the risk of cavities, limit sippy cup use to meal times and encourage your child to drink from a regular cup by age one. Avoid in-between meal snacks including fruit juice and milk.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should be weaned from the bottle at 12 to 14 months of age. Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juice or sweetened liquids. If your child drinks from the bottle at night, only use water. Never allow a child to breastfeed all night long because this exposes the teeth to milk that contains sugar when saliva flow is low.
Prolonged sucking on the thumb, finger, or pacifier may cause problems with the proper growth of the jaws and alignment of the teeth.
Your child may have sore gums when teeth erupt. Parents can massage the gums with a wet washcloth or use a teething ring to help with discomfort. Appropriate amounts of children’s Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may help.
If your child drinks fluoridated water, from your tap or from a bottle, then no supplement is needed. If you have well water that does not contain the recommended amount of fluoride, then give your child bottled water that contains fluoride. Another option would be to test the well water to determine the level of fluoride and then supplement if necessary.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association all recommend that the first dental visit take place no later than age one.