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How Do I Care for My Baby's Teeth?

Medically reviewed by: Yamini Durani, MD

Proper dental care begins before a child's first tooth appears. Each day, run a clean, damp washcloth or an infant toothbrush over their gums to clear away harmful bacteria.

When a child's teeth begin to come in, follow these tips:

  • Brush their teeth with an infant toothbrush. Use water and a tiny bit of infant toothpaste that's recommended by your doctor or dentist. Talk with your dentist about fluoride.
  • When your baby's teeth touch, you can begin flossing between them.
  • When kids are about age 2, start teaching them to spit while brushing. Don't give water to swish and spit because they could swallow toothpaste.

Even babies can get tooth decay. Putting a baby to sleep with a bottle can harm a baby's teeth. Sugars from juice, formula, or milk that stay on a baby's teeth for hours can eat away at the enamel (the layer of the tooth that protects against tooth decay). This can lead to "bottle mouth" or "baby bottle tooth decay." When this happens, the front teeth can get discolored, pocked, and pitted. Cavities might form and, in severe cases, the decayed teeth might need to be pulled.

When kids are 6 months old, they can switch from a bottle to a sippy cup (with a straw or hard spout). This helps prevent liquid from pooling around a child's teeth.

Medically reviewed by: Yamini Durani, MD
Date reviewed: April 2023