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Home > Daily Dental Care > Pediatric Dentistry > Infant Oral Health Care Guide
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Infant Oral Health Care Guide


Having a baby? Here's what you should know about your child's oral health and dental development:

Bottle Feeding and Nursing

  • To prevent nursing decay, try and avoid bedtime and naptime feedings or long frequent feedings. 
  • Please use only water in sleep time bottles.
  • Try to discontinue bottle or breast feeding by age one, and encourage drinking from a cup.


  • Infants and toddlers often have a high carbohydrate diet.
  • There are also lots of natural sugars in milk and fruit juices.
  • Crackers, chips, and dry cereals are carbohydrates that form a pasty film that is very sticky on teeth. These carbohydrates are then converted to sugars by the normal oral bacteria that promote tooth decay and gum problems.

Oral Habits

Your infant oral health guide.
  • Sucking on thumbs, fingers, and pacifiers can definitely cause or intensify current or future orthodontic problems.
  • However, it is normal for infants and children to have a strong sucking desire.
  • Some disfigurement of the primary teeth will self-correct.
  • Most children stop oral habits on their own.
  • Oral habits should be stopped before the permanent teeth erupt (approx. six years old).
  • Grinding of teeth is normal and should not be an area of concern unless there is significant wear of the teeth.


  • Symptoms include sensitive and uncomfortable gum areas, drooling, irritability, possible low grade fever and diarrhea.
  • Treatment can include massaging sore gums with a finger or teething rings, placing ice or frozen rings on gum areas. The best remedy is your child's pediatric dose of Tylenol® or fever reducing medication for pain.
  • Orajel® type products may work for a short period of time, but are not recommended.

Dental Development

  • There will be a total of 20 primary teeth.
  • Usually the lower incisors are the first to erupt around six months of age, and all primary teeth are not erupted until about two to three yrs. of age.
  • Eruption problems include eruption hematomas (bruising) over the erupting teeth.
  • Spacing, crowding, and rotations of teeth, extra teeth or missing teeth can usually be attributed to heredity. Eruption patterns and sequences vary from child to child.


Plaque is the enemy.

  • Brush teeth two times per day (after breakfast and especially before bed).
  • Brush in a circular pattern, cleaning one area at a time.
  • Toothpaste is not necessary. A wet brush will work fine to remove plaque and food.
  • A washcloth or gauze will work well for the early primary dentition.
  • Flossing is recommended for teeth that have tight contacts and trap food.
  • Stains can occur from foods, vitamins, iron drops, and other medicines. We can easily clean these off if they occur.
  • Toothpaste has quite a bit of fluoride in it. If the child is allowed to swallow it, this can cause white or brown spots to occur on the developing permanent teeth. Use toothpaste sparingly with young children.


  • Too much fluoride can cause a discoloration of the permanent teeth called fluorosis.
  • Sources of fluoride include fluoridated water, bottled juices (from concentrate), prescription vitamins, and toothpaste.
  • Know the fluoride level in your water.
  • If your water is not fluoridated, a dentist can provide you with a prescription for fluoride drops.
  • Do not allow your child to eat or swallow toothpaste as fluorosis can easily occur.

Traumatic Injuries:

We hope you never have to experience a dental injury but:

  • If injuries occur, severe enough to cause bleeding or fractured teeth, the child should receive a dental exam.
  • Change of color of teeth or red swollen gums are not normal and can indicate a dental infection although the child is in no apparent discomfort.
  • Primary teeth react differently to injuries than permanent teeth. Often, only an X-ray can detect pathological changes in the traumatized primary teeth.

Future Dental Visits

At future check-ups, a dentist can provide a comprehensive oral exam, dental cleaning and fluoride the teeth, as well as take appropriate x-rays if necessary.

Behavior of toddlers and children varies widely. Your child will go through different stages of development at his or her own rate. Most children will grow into great dental patients with a fun dental atmosphere.

If you need a dentist who is good with children, call us at 1-866-970-0441. We'll put you in touch with a great dentist today!

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