Do I need to clean my baby's gums before his teeth come in?
Yes, Even before your baby sports his first tooth, it's a good idea to get into the habit of wiping his gums with gauze or a soft wet washcloth during bath time. You don't need to use any toothpaste yet. Simply wrap the cloth or gauze around your index finger and rub it gently over his gums.
What's the best way to brush my baby's teeth after they start coming in?
As your child's teeth start to appear (generally around 6 months), look for a baby toothbrush with a small head and grip suitable for your hand. (If your child is healthy and still hasn't gotten her first tooth by the end of her first year, don't worry – some children don't start getting teeth until 15 to 18 months.)
Brush twice a day. Brush in the morning and right before bedtime.
Use a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste. To avoid giving your child too much fluoride, use a thin smear of toothpaste or a dot the size of a grain of rice.
Brush gently on the inside and outside of each of your baby's teeth, as well as her tongue (if she'll let you), to dislodge bacteria that can cause bad breath. Since you're using such a small amount of toothpaste, there's no need to rinse.
When should I start taking my baby to the dentist?
Take your child to the dentist within six months after her first tooth erupts, or by her first birthday, whichever comes first.
Do certain foods cause tooth decay in babies?
Certain foods can contribute to cavities. Sweet foods like these are a common culprit: Fruit, dried fruit, juice, peanut butter and jelly.
Starches can also contribute to cavities: Breads, crackers, pasta, pretzels.
Serve these foods at mealtime rather than as snacks so they're more likely to get dislodged and won't sit on the teeth too long. Serving them with water is also helpful.
Don't put your baby to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice, or sweetened liquid. These liquids feed bacteria in the mouth that cause tooth decay.
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