Keep on reading for some GREAT TIPS on how to love your baby’s teeth every step of the way.
Be sure to go to the dentist during pregnancy—it’s safe to have exams, x-rays, cleanings and treatment. Going to the dentist can help you avoid swollen gums (a.k.a. gingivitis), which can be caused by hormonal changes.
Continue to floss and brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day, with fluoride toothpaste—it’s proven safe for you and your baby and helps stop cavities!
After feeding, wipe those gums! Be sure to do so after every feeding, even before the first tooth comes in. All it takes is a washcloth or a finger toothbrush.
If your baby has teething pain, use a clean, cold teething ring or apply a cold, wet washcloth. Never put your baby to bed with a bottle in their mouth, that can lead to cavities later.
Always remember to keep cavity-causing germs out of your baby’s mouth by cleaning pacifiers, baby-bottles and utensils in soap and water after each use. Try not to put those items in your mouth either—share your love, not cavity-causing germs!
Got a tooth? Brush it clean! Use a children’s toothbrush with a smear of fluoride toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice, to brush teeth twice a day.
Lift your baby’s lip to check their teeth along the gumline for small white or brown spots. Do this often, at least once a week—these could become cavities.
Visit the dentist when your baby’s first tooth comes in or by the time they turn 1. Ask your dentist if your baby should have a thin coat of fluoride (fluoride varnish) applied to their teeth. It can help keep their teeth strong, just like avoiding sugary drinks and candy.
Make it the routine to keep teeth clean! After the first visit to the dentist, go every 6 months, unless otherwise advised by their dentist. Continue to brush teeth twice a day for two minutes with a smear of fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice. Keep checking your baby’s teeth for small white or brown spots. By now your child has a full set of teeth, so don’t forget to also check their back teeth.
If teeth are touching, it’s time to start flossing!
Show them the way to brush teeth twice a day! Let them try to brush and floss their teeth while they watch you brush and floss yours. Kids learn by copying us! After they’ve tried, brush and floss your child’s teeth for them so their teeth are totally clean. Be sure to start using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. After brushing, children should spit out and not swallow toothpaste.
You can also make the whole process fun by singing a toothbrushing song! Then, floss daily between teeth that touch.
Continue going to the dentist every 6 months, unless otherwise advised by their dentist. Talk with your dentist if your child is older than 3 and uses a pacifier or puts their thumb or fingers in their mouth.
It’s time to meet their grown-up teeth! The first adult teeth (molars) come in around age 6.
Make sure your child brushes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, for two minutes, and flosses daily. You can help you child brush and floss until they are 7 or 8.
Continue going to the dentist every 6 months, unless otherwise advised by their dentist. It may also be a great time to ask the dentist for a protective coating, called a sealant, to keep your kids new adult teeth strong for the long run. Fluoride varnish can also help.
A NOTE ON FLUORIDE:Fluoride is safe and effective, keeping your kid’s teeth strong! Within Solano County, only the cities of Suisun, Rio Vista, and Dixon have non-fluoridated public tap water. If you live in one of these non-fluoridated cities, make sure you and your family have the protection that fluoride can provide for your teeth. Families living in areas with non-fluoridated tap water can buy bottled water with fluoride (ask your grocer if you don’t see it on the shelf). As an alternative, you can ask your dentist for a fluoride varnish treatment, or a prescription for fluoride tablets or drops for you or your child.
Funded by the Office of Oral Health, CDPH Contract 17-10729. Brought to you by VibeSolano, Solano Public Health and the LA County Dept. of Public Health. Resources adapted with permission from Los Angeles County Public Health’s “Love Your Baby’s Teeth” campaign. If your interested in adapting these materials, please contact LACPH.
The health of your mouth helps the health of your overall body.
This is a conversation between Juan, a community member, and his provider, Dr. Keana. Many of us have similar situations.
Juan: “What is a healthy mouth?
Dr. Keana: “A healthy mouth, often referred to as good oral health, refers to the entire mouth being healthy. This includes the lips, tongue, teeth, gums, and the entire inside of your mouth. Keeping this part of your body in good health helps keep the rest of you in good health.”
Juan: “How do I get good oral health?”
Dr. Keana: “Good oral health requires more than just brushing and flossing. It requires proper nutrition, physical activity, being tobacco free, and whole-body wellness. There is growing evidence that poor oral health, gum disease, and tooth decay can increase your chances for other chronic diseases such as heart disease. See your dentist twice a year; brush twice a day; brush and floss before bed; and brush as soon as possible after eating foods that stick to your teeth.”
Juan: “Where can I find more information about oral health?”
Dr. Keana: “Use the links to answer questions about achieving good oral health!”
Non-fluoridated public tap water
Within Solano County, only the cities of Suisun, Rio Vista, and Dixon have non-fluoridated public tap water. If you live in one of these non-fluoridated cities, make sure you and your family have the protection that fluoride can provide for your teeth. Families living in areas with non-fluoridated tap water can buy bottled water with fluoride (ask your grocer if you don’t see it on the shelf). As an alternative, you can ask your dentist for a fluoride varnish treatment, or a prescription for fluoride tablets or drops for you or your child.
When to start brushing
As soon as baby teeth appear, you can start brushing. Let your toddlers brush along with you when they want to be just like mommy and daddy. Babies can start to see a dentist as soon as their teeth start to come in.
Toddlers need to see the dentist for regular checkups, too. Ask your dentist for a “happy visit” to meet and greet your toddler, and to start what hopefully will become a lifelong positive experience with dentists. Find a pediatric dentist in your area who can spot potential problems before they happen.
Dental decay is the #1 chronic disease among children
Local dental screenings of third graders found at least 25% of our children in Solano County have significant dental issues – 21% needed to see a dentist soon. Shockingly, 4% have critical issues like broken teeth, urgently needed root canals, and even abscesses (pockets of infection) that can become dangerous enough to require a trip to the emergency room if not seen by a dentist right away.
Dental pain and school attendance
Did you know that if your student is having a hard time in school, it could be due to a toothache? When students miss school, it is much easier to fall behind. Dental pain from an infection makes it difficult for a student to concentrate in school and participate in activities. A child who picks at food and avoids hard, crunchy food like carrots and apples may have a toothache or serious abscess (infection). Have your child visit a dentist twice a year, brush twice a day and floss. Brush as soon as possible after eating foods that stick to the teeth.
Protect your child’s teeth with dental sealants and fluoride treatments
The American Dental Association reports that sealants reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80% in molars! Sealants last for years. They prevent food from collecting in the tiny cracks and crevices in molars that are hard to reach with a toothbrush, thus preventing cavities. Your dentist or registered dental hygienist can coat the tops of your child’s molars with dental sealants.
Dentists and dental hygienists also can provide fluoride varnish for your child’s teeth. Fluoride varnish is a gel applied to teeth to protect them from cavities. These treatments strengthen tooth enamel and support oral health.
Young people whose permanent teeth were treated with fluoride varnish experienced a 43% reduction in decayed, missing and filled-tooth surfaces. There was a 37% reduction in decayed, missing and filled-tooth surfaces when fluoride varnish was applied on first or baby teeth.
Good oral health is important during pregnancy
It’s important to visit your dentist during pregnancy. Maintaining good oral health is a vital part of your prenatal care. Click here to learn more about oral health and pregnancy.
Once your baby is born, let your family members and caregivers know that it is possible, without knowing, to transmit oral bacteria to your baby by kissing him/her on the mouth. And, putting spoons, bottle nipples or pacifiers in your mouth to “clean” them in fact, transfers bacteria from your mouth to your baby which contributes to future tooth decay!
Breastfeeding is best for mom and baby
When possible, breastfeeding is healthiest. To help make it easier, there are many lactation resources available. A dental decay risk from bottle-feeding happens when your baby falls asleep with a bottle of formula or juice in his/her mouth. The sugary liquid pools in your infant’s mouth and soaks there for hours. This repeated exposure to sugary drinks leads to tooth decay. If you need to lay your baby down with a bottle, make sure it contains only water.
Remember: after your baby eats or drinks, wipe his/her gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth.