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A Healthy Mouth for Baby
- Give a cold teething ring to chew on. Never tie a teething ring around your baby’s neck, because of the risk of strangulation.
- If your baby is very uncomfortable, you may be able to give infant acetaminophen. Do not give your child aspirin because it can cause serious illness. Talk to your baby's doctor before using any pain relievers or numbing gels.
- If your baby will let you, massage swollen gums with your clean finger.
Feeding Baby for a Healthy Mouth
- Never put baby to bed with a bottle. Milk can pool in your baby’s mouth and cause cavities. Drinking from a bottle while lying flat can also cause ear infections.
- For babies aged one year and older:
- Limit fruit juice to 4-6 ounces per day.
- Teach your baby to drink from an open cup, rather than a bottle or sippy cup.
- Give only water or plain milk between meals. Keep in mind that milk has sugar.
- Give lots of fruits and vegetables for snacks. Limit cookies and other sweet treats to special occasions.
Cleaning Baby’s Mouth
- Start to clean your baby’s teeth regularly as soon as they come in. Use an amount of fluoride toothpaste that is about the size of a grain of rice. Progress to an amount that is about the size of a pea by the time your child is three years of age. This will reduce the risk of the child swallowing it.
- Clean your child’s teeth twice each day, especially before bed.
- Help your child with tooth brushing until they can do it properly themselves—usually at 7-8 years of age. Try brushing first and then let your child finish up.
Taking Baby to the Dentist
- Check your baby’s teeth.
- Show you how to clean your baby’s teeth.
- Talk to you about ways to decrease your baby’s risk of cavities, like:
- Limit snacking and drinks between meals, especially sweets.
- Give a fluoride supplement if your home’s water supply is not fluoridated. Contact your water supplier to find out if your water is fluoridated. You can also buy home test kits. Fluoride can protect your child’s teeth from decay and may even help to decrease decay that already exists. It is especially helpful for a child whose teeth are still developing.
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry http://www.aapd.org
American Dental Association http://www.ada.org
Canadian Dental Association http://www.cda-adc.ca
The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association http://www.cdha.ca
A healthy mouth for your baby. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at: http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/ToothDecay/AHealthyMouthforYourBaby.htm. Updated July 2013. Accessed February 17, 2014.
Anticipatory guidance (pediatric preventive care). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 11, 2014. Accessed February 17, 2014.
Douglas JM, Douglass AB, Silk HJ. A practical guide to infant oral health. Am Fam Physician. 2004;70(11):2113-2120.
Is thrush causing my sore nipples? La Leche League International website. Available at: http://www.llli.org/faq/thrush.html. Updated September 11, 2006. Accessed February 17, 2014.
Oral candidiasis in infants. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 26, 2013. Accessed February 17, 2014.
Policy on early childhood caries (ECC): classifications, consequences, and preventive strategies. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry website. Available at: http://www.aapd.org/media/Policies%5FGuidelines/P%5FECCClassifications.pdf. Updated 2011. Accessed February 17, 2014.
2/17/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs. Fluoride toothpaste use for young children. J Am Dent Assoc. 2014 Feb;145(2):190-191.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 10/2013
- Update Date: 02/17/2014