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First Smiles: Keep Them Healthy

Your baby’s first tooth is a major milestone in growth and development. As parents, we cherish those first toothy smiles.

Following good oral hygiene habits and visiting a dentist regularly will help ensure that your child has a healthy smile for years to come.

Baby’s First Teeth

It’s never too early to begin good brushing habits. You can start by wiping your baby’s gums after each feeding. Once your baby’s first tooth comes in, begin brushing with a soft toothbrush. Clean and massage gums in areas that remain toothless, and begin flossing when all the baby teeth have erupted, usually by age 2 or 2½.

Baby smiling, showing two teeth on lower gum

Caring for your child’s “baby,” or primary, teeth is very important, as these teeth hold space for the future eruption of permanent teeth. They also help your child speak and chew.

The American Dental Association recommends that your child have a dental visit within six months of the first tooth and no later than his or her first birthday.

Teaching Good Habits

As your child’s teeth begin to come in, you can help him or her brush at least twice a day with special attention to the gumline. Most children need help brushing their teeth until age 6 or 7. Children older than age 2 may begin to use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste on their brush. Teach your child to spit out the toothpaste and avoid swallowing it.

Most children begin losing their primary teeth around age 6. Around the same time, your child’s first permanent teeth begin to come in. When your child’s permanent molars begin to appear, your dentist may suggest using dental sealants. These sealants help protect the teeth from bacteria that cause decay.

Children should have regular dental checkups. Ask your dentist about the best schedule for your child.

“Baby’s First Teeth.” Journal of the American Dental Association. February 2002, vol. 133, pp. 255. www.ada.org/sections/scienceAndResearch/pdfs/patient_11.pdfAccessed 2013.

“Dental Care for Your Baby.” American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. http://d27vj430nutdmd.cloudfront.net/17242/64415/64415.1.pdf Accessed 2013.

"Baby Bottle Tooth Decay." Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/baby-bottle-tooth-decay.aspx Accessed 2013.

“Regular Dental Visits.” American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. http://d27vj430nutdmd.cloudfront.net/17249/64412/64412.3.pdf Accessed 2013.

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