Dental health is important, even before baby has teeth

You may have pediatrician visits, vaccines and your own doctor appointments down pat, but lots of new parents don’t realize they need to add a pediatric dentist to the list. Dental experts recommend infants visit a dentist before they celebrate their first birthdays.

Also on the checklist? Cleaning your infant’s mouth twice a day-something almost half of moms report not doing, according to a recent survey.

Before your baby’s first teeth come in, use a clean washcloth and water to wipe out the inside of her mouth and gums every morning and evening, says Dr. Ned Savide, spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. “You’re starting to introduce kids to a habit they’re going to have for the rest of their lives,” he says. Pick a comfortable place and establish a regular routine.

Dental rules, straight from the experts

  • In addition to cleaning infants’ mouths and gums, once baby teeth appear, brush them at least twice a day with an age-appropriate toothbrush and a smear of fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Give fluoride supplements to children older than six months if your drinking water doesn’t contain enough on its own.
  • Wean babies from the bottle by 12-14 months of age.
  • After you make that first dentist visit, schedule them twice each year.
  • Avoid at-will breastfeeding after the first baby tooth appears and other foods are introduced.
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