Baby Oral Care
Here are some guidelines for taking care of your infant’s mouth. Feel free to call us if you have any questions or concerns.
- Clean your infant’s gums with a clean damp cloths or toothbrush and plain water after each feeding. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed specifically for infants.
- Avoid testing the temperature of the bottle with the mouth, sharing utensils (e.g., spoons), or orally cleaning a pacifier or a bottle nipple. This practice helps prevent transmission of bacteria that cause tooth decay from the parent, especially the mother, to the child via saliva.
- Do not put the infant to sleep with a bottle or sippy cup or allow frequent and prolonged bottle feedings or use of sippy cups containing beverages high in sugar (e.g., fruit drinks, soda, fruit juice), mild, or formula during the day or at night to prevent sugary fluids from pooling around the teeth, which can increase the infant’s risk for tooth decay.
- Brush the infant’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts, usually around age 6 to 10 months, twice a day (after breakfast and before bed). Use a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed specifically for infants, and plain water. Lift the lip to brush at the gum line and behind the teeth. Do not give the infant anything to eat or drink (except water) after brushing at night.
- If the infant has sore gums caused by tooth eruption, give the infant a clear teething ring, cool spoon, or cold wet wash cloth. Other options include giving the infant a chilled teething ring or simply rubbing the infant’s gums with a clean finger.
- Wean the infant from the bottle as the infant begins to eat more solid foods and drink from a cup. Begin to wean the infant gradually, at about age 9 to 10 months. By age 12 to 14 months, most infants can drink from a cup.
- For infants ages 6 months and older, serve age appropriate healthy foods during planned meals and snacks, and limit eating (grazing) in between.
- Serve foods containing sugar at meal times only (not between meals), and limit the amount. Frequent consumption of foods high in sugar, such as candy, cookies, cake, sweetened beverages (e.g., fruit drinks, soda), and fruit juice, increases the risk for tooth decay. In addition, frequent consumption of foods that easily adhere to the tooth surface, such as fruit-roll-ups and candy, increases the risk for tooth decay. When checking for sugar, look beyond the sugar bowl and candy dish. A variety of foods contain one or more types of sugar, and all types of sugars can promote tooth decay.