Caring for Your Baby's Teeth and Gums

 One of the most exciting milestones for new parents is seeing their baby's first teeth appear. To keep those teeth healthy and beautiful, you'll want to make good choices about your baby's dental hygiene.

Parents' Good Oral Care and Habits Influence Their Child's Health

Did you know that when you care for your teeth, you're caring for your baby's teeth, too? That's because germs from your mouth can be easily passed to your baby's mouth through kissing or sharing a spoon. Bacteria from your mouth may end up in your baby's mouth, causing tooth decay.

Avoid Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby bottle tooth decay occurs when your baby's teeth are exposed to sugary liquids for long periods of time. It frequently occurs when babies suck on a bottle all day or are put to bed with a bottle. If the bottle contains milk, formula, juice or other sweetened liquids, it leaves a sugary film on your baby's teeth, which may lead to decay and infection. If you are breastfeeding, remember not to let your baby sleep while still feeding, because this practice leaves them vulnerable to baby bottle tooth decay as well.

Even though babies eventually lose their first teeth, tooth decay in baby teeth is serious. Unchecked, it can lead to poor eating habits, speech problems, oral infection, and discolored, crooked or damaged adult teeth.1

Cleaning Your Baby's Gums and Teeth

Starting at birth, gently clean your baby's gums with a soft cloth and water. When teeth begin to come in, start brushing twice daily with a little smear of fluoridated toothpaste and a child's soft toothbrush. As children get older, they can brush their own teeth, but you will need to help to make sure the teeth get really clean.

Schedule a Visit with the Dentist

Ask your dentist when they would like to see your child for a first visit. Usually this will be when the first tooth comes in, between six and 12 months of age. The earlier the first dentist visit occurs, the better your chances of preventing dental problems.

The information provided is for educational purposes only.

1. Children's Oral HealthOpens a new window, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, page last modified: January 7, 2011