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Proper Dental Care Begins with Baby Teeth

October 2023

Proper Dental Care Begins with Baby Teeth

The good news: Recent stats show that nearly 87% of children had a dental visit in the past year.

The bad news: About 23% of children still get cavities before age 5. 

Healthy teeth are important to your child’s growth and development. They help your child eat right, talk properly, and smile with confidence. Primary teeth, also known as baby teeth, hold space for permanent teeth. Keeping baby teeth healthy can also save children from the pain of a cavity—and the impact it may have on your child’s ability to learn, focus, and play.  

Care should start before teeth develop

Most babies begin teething between 6 months and 12 months of age. But you can protect your child’s oral health from birth.

  • Don’t put your little one to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, sweetened water, or sugar-laden drinks that can promote tooth decay.

  • Wipe your baby’s gums with a damp washcloth after meals. Once you see teeth come in, brush gently with a soft baby toothbrush and rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.

  • Report any spots and stains on developing teeth to your child’s doctor or dentist.

Also, breastfeeding during your child’s first year may reduce their risk of future tooth decay by 50%.

Maintain a healthy mouth through childhood

All your child’s baby teeth should come in by age 3. Follow these tips to keep them intact.

  • Visit the pediatric dentist between ages 6 months and 1 year, or when your child’s first tooth appears. Take him or her back as often as the dentist recommends—usually once every 6 months.

  • Feed your child a healthy diet. Think fruits and veggies instead of sugary cookies and candy.

  • Brush teeth twice a day. Use a smear of fluoride toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice until age 3. Then brush with a pea-sized drop of toothpaste. Until you are comfortable that your child can brush his or her own teeth, supervise brushing. 

  • Ask the dentist whether cavity-fighting sealants are right for your child. They can be applied to baby teeth or permanent teeth.