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Baby teeth may be small, but they’re extremely important.  They act as placeholders for adult teeth. Without a healthy set of baby teeth, your child will have trouble chewing and speaking clearly.  That’s why caring for baby teeth and keeping them decay-free is so important.

You can start caring for baby’s gums right away.  But at first, the care won’t involve a toothbrush and toothpaste.

Instead, follow these steps:

  • Get a soft, moistened washcloth or piece of gauze
  • Gently wipe down your baby’s gums at least twice a day
  • Especially wipe your baby’s gums after feedings and before bedtime

This will wash off bacteria and prevent them from clinging to gums.  Bacteria can leave behind a sticky plaque that damages infant teeth as they come in.

When the first baby teeth start to pop up, you can graduate to a toothbrush.

Choose one with a:

  • Soft brush
  • Small head
  • Large handle

At first, just wet the toothbrush.  As soon as teeth break the skin, you can start using a bit of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice.  You can increase this to a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when the child is 3 years old.  Brush gently all around your child’s baby teeth — front and back.

You should brush your baby’s teeth until he or she is old enough to hold the brush.  Continue to supervise the process until your child can rinse and spit without assistance, which is typically around age 6.

Even if there aren’t any issues, your child should go for his or her first dentist visit by age 1.

For more answers regarding your child’s dental hygiene, consult Dr. Halsema.