Caring for your baby’s teeth — first step to a lifetime of good oral health.

Just because your child’s baby teeth will eventually fall out, doesn’t make caring for them any less important. The truth is, those baby teeth have an important job to do. They help your child chew and speak properly and hold space for permanent teeth. And if your child has healthy baby teeth, chances are he or she will have healthy adult teeth too. From the moment your baby is born, here are some steps you can take to ensure he or she has a healthy smile through childhood and into adulthood.

  • Before the first tooth erupts, wipe your baby’s gums with a damp washcloth or soft infant toothbrush after meals. Cleaning your baby’s gums will help keep bacteria levels low and maintain a clean home for his or her new teeth.
  • Don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, sweetened water or soft drinks. Sugar can build up in the mouth and cause tooth decay often called baby bottle decay. Instead, fill your little one’s bottle with water.
  • Avoid sharing toothbrushes, bottles, spoons and straws to protect your baby from the transfer of cavity-causing bacteria.
  • As soon as the first tooth erupts, begin brushing with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and water at least once a day, preferably before bedtime. Once any two of your child’s teeth are touching, it’s time to start flossing once a day.
  • Within six months of getting the first tooth, and no later than the first birthday your baby should have his or her first dental visit.
  • By the time your child is 2, or by the time he or she can spit, start using a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste. Be sure to train your child to spit out the toothpaste and rinse afterward. Help your child brush properly twice a day.
  • You should help brush and floss until age 7 or 8 or until your child can properly care for his or her teeth alone.

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