Dental Care for Infants

When should you begin caring for your child’s teeth? Before you can even see them.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry offers the following dental checklist for caring for your baby’s mouth throughout his or her first year:

Birth to six months of age:

• Clean the infant's mouth with a soft washcloth or an infant toothbrush after feedings and at bedtime.

• Consult your child's pediatrician about using fluoride supplements.

Six to 12 months of age:

• During this time, the first tooth should appear. Consult a pediatric dentist for an examination.

• Brush teeth twice daily with a small, soft-bristled brush, using a smear of fluoride-containing toothpaste.

• As the child begins to walk, stay alert for potential dental and/or facial injuries.

• Wean the child from the bottle by 12 to 14 months of age. (If a woman breastfeeds her child, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least one year.)

Facts About Baby Teeth

Proper care of a child's deciduous teeth (also known as baby or primary teeth) is very important as these teeth hold space for the future permanent teeth.

• If a baby tooth decays or is removed too early, the space necessary for the permanent tooth is lost and can only be regained through orthodontic treatment.

• Infected baby teeth can cause the permanent teeth to develop improperly resulting in stains, pits, and weaker teeth.

• Primary teeth are important in speech development.

• Primary teeth aid in chewing food properly, promoting healthy nutrition.

Diet and dental care for children:

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends the following to ensure your child eats correctly to maintain a healthy body and teeth:

• Ask your pediatric dentist to help you assess your child's diet.

• Shop smart. Do not routinely stock your pantry with sugary or starchy snacks. Buy "fun foods" just for special times.

• Limit the number of snack times and choose nutritious snacks.

• Do not put your young child to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, or juice.

Online Medical Reviewer: Jovino, Louise DO

Date Last Reviewed: 4/2/2010

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