Infants and Toddlers

Infants & Toddlers: Starting Oral Care Right

Oral Care for Babies and Toddlers

From the moment your little one arrives, their oral health becomes an important part of their overall well-being. Here are some essential tips and information to help you keep your baby's mouth healthy and protected right from the start.

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Oral Care at Home
  • Start Early: Introduce oral care habits as soon as possible to establish a routine. Gently wipe your baby's gums with a clean, damp washcloth or gauze pad after feedings to remove bacteria and reduce the risk of tooth decay.

  • Avoid Unhealthy Bacteria Transfer: Refrain from kissing your baby on the mouth or cleaning their pacifier with your mouth, as this can transfer harmful bacteria to their mouth and increase the risk of oral issues.

  • Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding provides numerous benefits for your baby's oral and overall health. However, even breastfed babies can develop tooth decay, so it's essential to maintain good oral hygiene practices.

  • Bottle and Sippy Cup Use: Be cautious with sugary drinks, as prolonged exposure to sugar can lead to "baby bottle tooth decay." Clean your baby's mouth after consuming sugary beverages, and avoid giving them a bottle or sippy cup filled with anything other than water before bedtime.

  • Normal Symptoms: Teething typically begins around four to seven months and can cause symptoms like swollen gums, fussiness, and drooling. While these are normal signs of teething, be mindful of any unusual symptoms and contact your pediatrician if you have concerns.

  • Soothing Measures: Provide your baby with chilled teething rings or other appropriate items to help soothe their gums. Avoid using oral drug products containing benzocaine for children under two years old, as they can be harmful.

When Teeth Emerge
  • First Dental Visit: Schedule your baby's first dental visit within six months of their first tooth eruption or by their first birthday. During this visit, the dentist will examine your child's mouth, provide oral hygiene guidance, and address any concerns you may have.

  • Brushing and Flossing: As soon as your baby's teeth start to emerge, gently brush them with a small, soft toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste. Once adjacent teeth touch, introduce flossing into their oral care routine.

Fluoride and Water

 Fluoride plays a crucial role in preventing tooth decay. Discuss your child's fluoride needs with your dentist or pediatrician, especially if you live in an area with non-fluoridated water or use filtered water that removes fluoride.

Baby-Proofing Your Home

As your baby becomes more mobile, ensure your home is safe to prevent accidents. Use cushioning on sharp edges, anchor furniture, and install child-proof gates to keep your little one safe.

Seeking Professional Care

Regular dental visits are essential for monitoring your child's oral health and development. Encourage positive experiences at the dentist by scheduling morning appointments and maintaining a calm demeanor.


Thumbsucking, Pacifiers, and Tongue Thrusting:

Monitor thumbsucking, pacifier use, and tongue thrusting habits, as excessive or prolonged habits can impact oral development. Seek guidance from your child's dentist if needed.

ussiness, and consult your pediatrician or dentist if you suspect thrush.


Thrush, a fungal infection in the mouth, can occur in babies and toddlers. Watch for symptoms such as white patches in the mouth, gum irritation, and fussiness, and consult your pediatrician or dentist if you suspect thrush.


You can start caring for your baby's oral health even before the first tooth erupts. Begin by gently wiping your baby's gums with a clean, damp cloth after feedings to remove bacteria and food particles.

The timing of a baby's first tooth eruption varies, but most babies get their first tooth between 4 and 7 months of age. However, it's not uncommon for some babies to get their first tooth as early as 3 months or as late as 12 months.

Clean your baby's teeth and gums twice a day using a soft, infant-sized toothbrush and water. Once your child's first tooth erupts, you can start using a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) on the toothbrush. As your child grows, you can gradually increase the amount of toothpaste to a pea-sized portion.

Teething can be a challenging time for babies and parents alike. To help soothe your baby's sore gums, you can offer a clean, chilled teething ring or gently massage their gums with a clean finger. If your baby is experiencing discomfort, you can also talk to your pediatrician about using over-the-counter pain relief remedies specifically formulated for infants.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children have their first dental visit by their first birthday or within six months after their first tooth erupts. Early dental visits help establish a dental home for your child and allow the dentist to monitor their oral health and development.

Common oral health problems in infants and toddlers include tooth decay (cavities), early childhood caries (ECC), teething discomfort, gum irritation, and thumb-sucking habits. It's essential to address these issues early to prevent complications and promote healthy dental development.

To prevent tooth decay in your child, practice good oral hygiene habits, limit sugary snacks and drinks, avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle of milk or juice, and encourage regular dental check-ups starting from an early age. Fluoride varnish applications and dental sealants may also be recommended by your child's dentist to help prevent cavities.

Both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding can provide essential nutrients for your baby's growth and development. However, prolonged bottle-feeding, especially with sugary liquids like juice or formula, can increase the risk of tooth decay. If you're breastfeeding, avoid letting your baby fall asleep at the breast to prevent prolonged exposure to milk sugars.

Most children naturally outgrow their pacifier or thumb-sucking habits by the age of 3 or 4. However, prolonged pacifier use or thumb-sucking beyond this age can affect dental development and increase the risk of misaligned teeth or bite problems. Encourage positive oral habits and provide praise and encouragement as your child transitions away from these habits.

To help your child develop healthy oral habits for life, lead by example by practicing good oral hygiene yourself and making dental care a priority for the entire family. Encourage regular dental check-ups, limit sugary snacks and drinks, and instill positive attitudes toward oral health by making dental care fun and engaging for your child.

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