Caring for Your Baby’s Teeth and Gums


Caring for Your Baby’s Teeth and Gums

March 5, 2013

Rory Mycek is a guest contributor from,

the dental resource site in the same network as What To Expect.

It’s important for your child to develop a good oral care routine while they are still young. The best way to ensure that they carry these habits into the future is to establish a routine and practice healthy habits that deter cavities. Dental care starts from birth, even before a baby gets their first tooth.

Birth to 6 Months

Even though your baby hasn’t developed their teeth, there are still ways to care for their mouths. After feeding it’s important to gently wipe your infant’s gums with your index finger and a moist warm washcloth. Keeping this in mind, if you do decide to put your baby to bed or down for a nap with a bottle, replace milk with water so that there aren’t any lingering bacteria in their mouths as they continue sleeping.

Most children begin teething around four to six months and when this happens they feel discomfort and you may notice swelling and redness on their gums. These are symptoms that you can help ease by using a cold teething ring or giving them a cold wet washcloth. Your baby will feel more at ease having something cool to place on their gums.Most importantly make sure all of your baby’s bottle nipples, teething rings and pacifiers are thoroughly cleaned. Bacteria can live on these surfaces and lead to decay.

6 to 12 Months

This is a very exciting time for parents. Not only do your babies start forming into their own and develop personalities, but there are a handful of firsts including a baby’s first tooth!

Continue to follow the same routine as you did when your baby was an infant, but gradually add to the routine. Once the first tooth grows in, it’s time to start brushing. Brush your child’s tooth and massage their gums with a children’s soft toothbrush and plain water twice a day. Make sure to watch out for anything abnormal in your baby’s mouth, like sores on their gums and on the insides of their mouths. Also check their tooth or teeth for any spots or discoloration because that may be an indication that they are having some decay.

Parents will schedule their baby’s first dental visit in this time. Dentists like to see a baby 6 months after their first tooth has begun growing in or by their first birthday, whichever falls first. Make sure to ask your dentist if they feel about providing fluoride supplements to your baby if fluoride isn’t diluted into your drinking water.

12 to 18 Months

Continue to care for your baby’s teeth and gums, looking out for any signs of decay and by brushing and massaging them with a child’s soft toothbrush and plain water twice daily.



18 Months to 5 Years

 Also make sure to continue dental appointments or to schedule your baby’s first dentist appointment if they have not been seen already. Just like adults, once your baby has visited the dentist it’s customary to schedule an appointment every six months.

Your baby should develop all of their primary (baby) teeth by the time they reach 2 and a half years old. Once they reach 2 years of age, you can begin to introduce toothpaste into their dental routine. There are special toothpastes that cater to children and offer flavors that they are more likely to gravitate toward, these are fine just make sure they contain fluoride. Do be careful that your child doesn’t swallow the toothpaste despite its tasty flavor.

When you believe that your child is able to and has enough hand coordination, begin letting them brush their own teeth. If you brush your teeth with them have them watch so that they can have a guide as the start to brush themselves. To make sure your child is brushing their teeth correctly, it’s best to supervise them.

A habit that a lot of young children pick up is thumb-sucking. By the time they reach 3 and 4 they should cease the habit, if they haven’t make sure that you help encourage them to lay off the fingers. This can be a daunting not-so-fun task for parents, but in order to ensure your child’s teeth are growing in correctly it’s best to help them stop.

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