Proper care of your child's teeth and gums includes brushing and rinsing daily. It also includes having routine dental exams, and getting necessary treatments such as fluoride, extractions, fillings, or braces and other orthodontics.
Healthy teeth and gums are essential to your child's overall good health. Injured, diseased, or poorly developed teeth can result in:
Painful and dangerous infections
Problems with speech development
CARING FOR AN INFANT'S TEETH
Even though newborns and infants do not have teeth, it is important to take care of their mouth and gums. Follow these tips:
Use a damp washcloth to wipe your infant's gums after each meal.
Do NOT put your infant or young child to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, or sugar water. Use only water for bedtime bottles.
Begin using a soft toothbrush instead of a washcloth to clean your child's teeth as soon as his first tooth shows (usually between 5 - 8 months of age).
When your child gets permanent teeth, he or she should begin flossing each evening before going to bed.
When the child reaches the teens, braces or extractions may be needed to prevent long-term problems.
Ng MW. Early childhood caries: risk-based disease prevention and management. Dent Clin North Am. 2013; 57(1):1-16
Chou R, Cantor A, Zakher B, et al. Preventing dental caries in children <5 years: systematic review updating USPSTF recommendation. Pediatrics. 2013; 132(2); 332-50.
Douglass JM. A practical guide to infant oral health. Am Fam Physician. 2004;70:2113-2120.
Ilona Fotek, DMD, MS, Palm Beach Prosthodontics Dental Associates, West Palm Beach, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.