Your child’s oral care should start from birth. Using a damp cloth to rub your baby’s gums will help remove plaque and also help your child adjust to having something foreign in their mouth. Once your baby’s first tooth has erupted, you should begin brushing twice daily with a small soft-bristle toothbrush. Use a small (pea-size) dab of fluoride-free toothpaste. Floss will be important to introduce when your child has their first two teeth touching together.
Tooth decay in infants, called baby bottle tooth decay, can occur when liquids containing sugar are left to cling to an infant’s teeth for extended periods of time. Do not allow your child to sleep with anything other than water in their bottle. Sweet liquids like milk, formula and fruit juice can cause problems. Bacteria in the mouth use the sugar in these liquids as food, and then they produce acids that attack the teeth. It is important to limit not only how often your child is snacking/drinking but also monitor the duration of time they are doing so.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends having your child’s first dental visit by their first birthday. A child’s first visit is a great time to introduce your child to the practice and for the dentists to do a brief evaluation of your child’s gums, teeth and bite. Problems can develop early, so it is important to start regular visits early on.