Tips for Keeping Tiny Teeth Healthy
En Español (Spanish Version)

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), it is never too early to establish good oral hygiene habits. This will ensure healthy teeth and gums for your child.

Here are some tips for parents from the ADA.

Clean Gums for Clean Teeth
After each feeding, wipe your baby's gums with a clean gauze pad. At birth, your baby already has 20 primary teeth, some of which are almost completely formed in the jaw. Wiping the gums will remove the plaque and bacteria that can harm teeth as they erupt from the gums. Begin brushing with a soft toothbrush when the first tooth erupts.

Drinks for Bedtime and Nap Time
Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juice, or sweetened liquids. This can lead to tooth decay. Instead, fill a bottle with cool water for your baby.

First Dental Visit
It is recommended that your child has a dental visit by their first birthday. Be sure to make a call to the dentist after the first tooth erupts. The dentist will check for decay and other possible problems and can show you how to properly clean your child's teeth.

Balanced Diet
Ensure that your child eats a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods from the five major food groups:

  • Grain products
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Protein foods such as meat and beans
  • Low fat or fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt
Nutritious Snacks
Provide nutritious snacks, such as cheese, raw vegetables and fruit, or low fat or fat-free plain yogurt. Limit the number of starchy or sugary snacks your child eats. After a snack that contains sugars or starches, the teeth are attacked by acids for 20 minutes or more.

Daily Brushing
Make sure that your child brushes at least twice a day. Use a fluoride-containing toothpaste that has the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance once your child is aged two years. Set a good example by brushing your own teeth at least twice a day.

Daily Flossing
Teach your child to clean between the teeth daily with floss. A parent should begin using floss on a child's teeth as soon as any two teeth touch.

Regular Dental Visits
Take your child to the dentist regularly. Children should know that the dentist is a friendly doctor who will help them take care of their teeth. Be positive and try to make dental visits an enjoyable experience for your child.

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry

American Dental Association

Canadian Dental Association

The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

Anticipatory guidance (pediatric preventive care). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated October 3, 2013. Accessed November 11, 2013.

Baby bottle tooth decay. American Dental Association Mouth Healthy website. Available at: Accessed November 11, 2013.

Douglass JM, Douglass AB, et al. A practical guide to infanto oral health. 2004;70(11):2113-2120.

Fluoride for prevention of dental caries. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated October 14, 2013. Accessed November 11, 2013.

Healthy habits. American Dental Association Mouth Healthy website. Available at: Accessed November 11, 2013.

Nutrition. American Dental Association Mouth Healthy website. Available at: Accessed November 11, 2013.

Last Reviewed November 2013

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