Frequently Asked Questions about Children's Dental Health

How should I clean my baby’s teeth?

Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head, especially one designed for infants. Removing plaque bacteria that can lead to decay is important, and should be done once per day.

What is baby bottle tooth decay and how can I prevent it?

When a child goes to sleep while nursing or bottle feeding, baby bottle tooth decay can occur. Rapid decay associated with prolonged nursing happens because the flow of saliva is reduced during sleep, causing the natural self-cleaning process in the mouth to be diminished. Nursing children to sleep should be avoided, and be sure to put only water in their bedtime bottle. As their first birthday approaches, encourage your child to drink from a cup, setting a goal of having them weaned from the bottle by 12-14 months of age.

Should I worry about thumb sucking in regard to my child’s oral development?

Like any habit, thumb and pacifier sucking that are allowed to continue for a long period of time can lead to crowded, crooked teeth and even bite problems. While most children stop these habits on their own while still in the baby teeth stages of development, an appliance can be recommended by the time permanent teeth arrive.

Should I use toothpaste when cleaning my baby’s teeth?

Prior to your child turning two, use only water and a soft bristled toothbrush. Even at age two, only a pea-size amount of toothpaste is recommended, and parents should supervise brushing at all times.

When should I expect to see the first baby teeth arrive?

We refer to the arrival of baby teeth as erupting, and the first usually come in at around six months of age. The two lower front teeth, called the central incisors, will erupt first, followed by the two upper central incisors not long after that. The next 18 to 24 months generally see the arrival of the rest of the baby teeth, though not in any particular order. By 2 to 3 years of age, all 20 primary teeth should be present.

The teething stage is particularly tough on my child. How can I help?

Sore gums during the eruption process are normal, but painful. For some children, the use of a teething biscuit can ease the pain, while others prefer a chilled teething ring or a even a piece of toast. Additionally, your pharmacy should be able to provide medications that can be rubbed on the gums to help with any discomfort.