Oral Health Tips for Parents with Infants & Toddlers

Ensuring good oral health in the early years of a child’s life is crucial for their overall well-being. Here are some important tips and resources for parents with children aged 0-3:

1. Start Early

   – Begin oral care even before the first tooth appears. Gently wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, damp cloth after feedings.

2. First Dental Visit

   – Schedule your child’s first dental visit by their first birthday. This establishes a dental home and helps monitor oral health early on.

3. Baby Bottle Decay

   – Avoid letting your child fall asleep with a bottle or soppy cup. Sugary liquids can lead to tooth decay, often referred to as “baby bottle tooth decay.”  

4. Teething

   – Use clean, cool teething rings or a clean, wet cloth to soothe your baby’s gums. Avoid teething gels with benzocaine, as they can be harmful.

5. Brushing Baby Teeth

   – As soon as the first tooth emerges, begin brushing with a soft, child-sized toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste.  Always brush before bed and ensure no sugar ingested after brushing. 

6. Fluoride

   – Drink unfiltered water from the tap.  Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay. 

7. Healthy Diet

   – Limit sugary foods and drinks. Encourage a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables.  Crackers and fruit snacks are as harmful to teeth as candy.  

8. Avoid Sugary Drinks

   – Avoid giving your child sugary juices, sodas, or sports drinks. Water and milk are better choices.  Make it a rule: no soda, sweet tea, and avoid juice.  

9. Pacifiers and Thumb-Sucking

   – If your child uses a pacifier or sucks their thumb, we recommend to stop this habit by age two.  

10. Lead by Example

   – Children often imitate their parents, so maintain good oral hygiene habits in front of them.

11. Toddlers can get cavities and baby teeth matter.  

Cavities are one of the leading chronic diseases among children and 100% preventable. Cavities can lead to painful infections and early tooth loss.   

Remember that establishing good oral health habits early in your child’s life can set them on a path to a lifetime of healthy smiles. Regular dental check-ups and consistent oral care at home are key to their overall well-being.  

Panda pediatrics has embedded a registered dental hygienist within the care team.  Ask to speak with them at your next visit to Panda.  Our Heartland Community Health Center location is happy to see children of all ages as well!

Useful Resources

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)

   – Website: [www.aapd.org](https://www.aapd.org/)

 

American Dental Association (ADA) – Baby and Toddler Oral Health

   – Website: [www.ada.org/en/public-programs/mouthhealthy](https://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/mouthhealthy)

 

HealthyChildren.org

   – A resource from the American Academy of Pediatrics offering articles and tips on children’s health, including oral health: [www.healthychildren.org](https://www.healthychildren.org/)