Parents often wonder the best approach toward dental hygiene in babies and young children. Baby teeth are the “place holders” for adult teeth, which is why it’s so important to care for them from the beginning. You can start caring for baby’s gums right away by following these steps:
Get a soft, moistened washcloth or piece of gauze.
Gently wipe down your baby’s gums at least twice a day.
Especially wipe your baby’s gums after feedings and before bedtime.
This will wash off bacteria and prevent them from clinging to gums. Bacteria can leave behind a sticky plaque that damages infant teeth as they come in.
When the first baby teeth start to pop up, you can graduate to a toothbrush. You’ll want to choose one with a:
At first, just wet the toothbrush. As soon as teeth erupt, you can start using a bit of training toothpaste (no fluoride) about the size of a grain of rice. You can increase this to a peas sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when your child is 3 years old. Brush gently all around your child’s baby teeth — front and back.
You should brush your baby’s teeth until he or she is old enough to hold the brush. Continue to supervise the process until your child can rinse and spit without assistance. That usually happens at around age 6.
Keep on the lookout for any signs of baby tooth decay — brown or white spots or pits on the teeth. If you or your pediatrician notices any problems, take your child to a pediatric dentist for an exam. They can give you advice on the best care approach.
Even if there do not appear to be any issues with your child’s baby teeth, the American Dental Association recommends that all children see a dentist by age 1.