Oral Health for Infants & Toddlers

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019), cavities (also known as tooth decay) is the most common childhood disease in the United States. It is important to take care of your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears, after all, tooth decay is preventable.

Did you know that as a parent or caregiver you can pass cavities to children? For example, you can pass cavities to your child by sharing forks and spoons.

  • checkedAfter every feeding, wipe your baby’s gums with a clean soft cloth 2x a day
  • checked Use a smear- or rice-size amount of toothpaste
  • checkedAvoid sharing forks or spoons to prevent passing cavities to your child
  • checkedAvoid putting your baby to sleep with a bottle or sippy cup
  • checkedTake your child to the dentist once every 6 months, starting at age 1

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends your child first visit the dentist by age 1. This will help your child get used to visiting the dentist while allowing the dentist to check your child’s teeth to spot signs of early problems.

Another way to prevent your child from getting cavities is limiting sugary drinks, like fruit juice or soda. It is okay to have a soda every once in a while, but we want to limit them as much as possible. Cavities will form if your child drinks too many sugary drinks. Also, if you put your child to sleep with a bottle that contains fruit juice, cavities will form.

Try to put your child to sleep without a bottle. It may be difficult at first, but we believe you and your child can do it. By not putting your child to sleep with a bottle filled with a sugary drink, as a parent or caregiver, you are preventing cavities from forming in your child’s teeth. If you are having any concerns about your child’s teeth, remember to ask your dentist any questions you might have.

Are you a parent or caregiver?

As a parent or caregiver, do you know how can you protect your child’s teeth from cavities? If your child does not have teeth yet, wipe their gums with a soft, clean cloth after they eat in the morning and at night. After teeth start coming in, use a soft-bristle toothbrush and a smear-size amount of toothpaste.

One of the easiest ways to protect your child’s teeth from cavities is through the use of fluoride varnish (Marinho et al., 2013). Ask your dentist or primary care provider about fluoride varnish. Fluoride varnish is completely safe for infants and toddlers and can be done by your doctor in a primary care setting (Clark & Slayton, 2014).

Are you a pediatric provider?

If you are celebrating National Children’s Dental Health Month, check out materials from the CDC here. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides a complete provider social media toolkit for expecting mothers on how to protect their baby’s tiny teeth.

Are you interested in incorporating oral health into your practice? Brush, Book, Bed is a campaign created by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The campaign is meant to link the three important nighttime routines in one health message. If you are interested in learning more, please visit AAP.org.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019) Children’s Oral Health. https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/childrens-oral-health/index.html

Clark, M. B., & Slayton, R. L. (2014) Fluoride use in cares prevention in the primary care setting. Pediatrics, 134(3), 626-633. http://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2014-1699

Marinho, V. C., Worthington, H. V., Walsh, T., Clarkson, J. E. (2013). Fluoride varnishes for preventing dental caries in children and adolescents. Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews, 11(7). doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD002279.pub2

Brush, Book, Bed

Interested in incorporating oral health into your medical practice? Brush, Book, Bed is a great campaign to increase awareness about the importance of oral health at a young age.

Download printable BBB materials here.

Do you know what baby bottle tooth decay is?

Putting your baby to bed with a bottle might be doing more harm than you think. Watch the video above to learn more.

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