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Caring for Your Baby or Toddler's Mouth

Care of your baby’s mouth should start soon after birth and become an important part of a daily cleaning routine.
Before teeth appear
  • Pick a time each day to clean away food and plaque, such as bath time.
  • Place a clean washcloth on your pointer finger.
  • In a feeding position, use your fingers to gently wipe inside of baby’s mouth.
  • Clean gums and insides of cheeks. 
As soon as teeth come in
  • Use a small soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day (especially important before bed).
  • Use water or non-fluoridated toothpaste and brush in a gentle circular motion.
  • Contact the Northwestern Health Unit about the

Do not use toothpaste with fluoride until your child is able to spit out; usually around age three. If your child is at risk of developing cavities, a health professional may recommend using a rice-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. When a child can spit out properly, use a small amount of toothpaste (the size of a green pea) on the toothbrush. You should help your child with brushing until age six.

Breastfeeding helps your baby develop correct swallowing habits and proper jaw development. If you nurse your baby in bed, make sure you unlatch and let them swallow before you both go back to sleep. Mother’s milk has natural sugar in it that can cause cavities if it stays in baby’s mouth overnight.
In case of emergency
See a dentist as soon as possible if your child suffers a hit or bump that loosens or knocks out a tooth, if you notice dark spots or holes in teeth, or if your child complains of a toothache. 
Regular dental care
Bring your child to visit a dental health professional by age one. Your doctor and dentist should examine your baby’s mouth to check for normal growth and development and provide advice.
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