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Your Child's Teeth from Birth to Age 6

Information provided by the American Dental Association

To give your child a healthy start in life, it's important to take care of his or her teeth and gums. That's because if dental disease is not treated, it can cause serious health problems. Keep your child's smile healthy with these tips:

Cleaning your child's teeth

Cleaning your child's teeth is an important step to prevent cavities. Before your baby has teeth, wipe the baby's gums after each feeding. Use a clean, damp gauze pad or washcloth. This removes plaque and bits of food.

When your child's teeth begin to come in, start brushing them twice a day (morning and night). Use a child-sized toothbrush with soft bristles.

For children under three years old, use no more than a smear or grain-of-rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. For children three to six, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Don't give your child extra toothpaste. After brushing, teach your child to spit out the toothpaste instead of swallowing it.

The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your child's teeth until he or she is at least six years old.

Teething tips

As teeth begin to come in, some babies may have sore or tender gums. To help your baby feel better, you can:

  • Gently rub your child's gums with a clean finger or wet gauze, or with a small cool spoon
  • Give him or her a clean, chilled teething ring - do NOT dip it in sugar, syrup, honey or other foods
  • Talk to your child's dentist or pediatrician if your baby is still cranky and uncomfortable
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