By Steven Barefoot, DDS
Oral health starts before a baby’s first tooth comes in. Here are daily habits to help you support your child’s oral health and build toward a healthy future.
- Babies are born without cavity-causing bacteria in their mouths. To avoid passing the bacteria to your child, don’t share a spoon or cup with them, and don’t clean or moisten a pacifier with your saliva.
- Before your baby has teeth, gently wipe their gums twice a day with a clean, wet washcloth. Keep up with this routine as teeth start to come in. This will help to keep baby teeth strong and healthy.
- Babies usually get their lower teeth after eight months. The upper teeth come in at about 10 months. When they show, clean the first teeth by adding a small amount of toothpaste with fluoride to a clean, wet washcloth. Then wipe off each tooth.
- As more teeth come in later, gently brush your baby’s teeth with a soft toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste with fluoride. It’s okay to use just a dab of toothpaste at first. Slowly work up to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste by your child’s third birthday.
Another way to protect your baby’s gums and teeth is to choose a dental home - a dentist office to get care now and into the future. Starting this relationship early helps your baby get comfortable with the dentist and in doctors’ offices overall.
DentaQuest members can use our Find a Dentist tool to find a dental home for you and your child. Make an appointment before your child is one year old. The team at the dental home will keep an eye on possible risks to future health and provide guidance to help your family healthy.
At DentaQuest, part of Sun Life U.S., we work to make quality dental care accessible and improve the oral health of all.
With 30-plus years in dental practice, Steven Barefoot, DDS, associate director of clinical value-based care at DentaQuest, provides clinical input to develop new care programs; manages the design of quality measures; and responds to providers participating in value-based programs. Medical research at Methodist Hospital of Indiana and business development, analysis, and analytics in a range of areas complement Dr. Barefoot’s clinical career.
The newsletter designed for anyone who wants to improve oral health for themselves, their families, customers or communities.