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Early care is critical for long-term dental health

Tips on how to care for your child's new teeth

Tips on how to care for your baby's teeth

How should you care for your baby’s new teeth? The AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) recommends you wipe your baby’s gums with a clean soft cloth or a baby toothbrush and water twice a day. It’s a good idea to start this routine even before the first tooth appears by gently wiping the gums.

When your child reaches two, brush with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Introduce fluoride only if your child knows how to spit since you don’t want the child swallowing it. Otherwise, try the fluoride-free toddler toothpastes.


The AAPD recommends a child first visit the dentist by the first birthday or six months after the first tooth appears. Since preventing tooth decay is key, as soon as you can start your child with regular dental check-ups, the better.


What should your child expect at their first dental visit? It depends upon the age of the child and how many teeth he has. If your child has only four teeth or is just a one-year-old, the dentist will do an oral examination of the mouth and teeth, usually with the child seated on mom or dad’s lap.

READ MORE: Having trouble getting the kids to brush?


Pediatric dentist Morris Sobel, DDS, of the Smile Dentists in Newburgh uses this first appointment to also review the child’s diet and home care routine. His recommendation can vary depending upon the child’s age or whether or not the child has special needs.


A dentist may also discuss the following:

  • The importance of brushing in the morning and in the evening, brushing after sugary snacks especially sticky ones since sugar can sit on the teeth all day.
  • For teeth that are touching, always floss. Brushing alone will not be able to reach the decay-causing bacteria between teeth.
  • Eliminate the bedtime bottle, unless it has water in it. Make sure the sippy cup has water in it, too.
  • Avoid or limit sugary snacks and processed foods since most contain sugar.

If the child hasn’t begun taking fluoride vitamins, the dentist will usually write a prescription. Most public water systems are fluorinated, but since the Hudson Valley is primarily a rural area and homes are serviced by private wells, fluoride is not a regular part of most children’s diets and needs to be supplemented.


For older children, two- to three-years old, the examination will be more extensive with a cleaning, fluoride treatment and x-rays if the dentist suspects tooth decay.


Jean Campbell Galli is a freelance writer and mother or two.