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brushingDid you know that good oral hygiene is essential for your child from the very start?  That’s because healthy gums and teeth help your child chew properly and speak clearly.  In addition, teeth and gums also shape your child’s face and make way for adult teeth to come in properly.  Dental decay in baby teeth can have serious affects on your child’s overall health.

The good news is that there are simple steps you can take starting as soon as your baby’s teeth come in to prevent decay.  A baby should have their first dental visit by age 1, but how you care for your baby’s teeth at home makes all the difference!

  • Feed your baby healthy foods, and limit foods that will stick to teeth such as raisins.
  • Don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle. Milk, formula, juice, and other drinks such as soda all contain sugar. If sugary liquids stay on your baby’s teeth too long, it can lead to tooth decay. Also, wipe your baby’s teeth and/or gums after breastfeeding.
  •  At about age 2, begin using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.  If your child doesn’t like the flavor, try another flavor.
  • Clean your baby’s gums with a soft, clean, moist cloth after each feeding. Once your child’s teeth start to come in, use a child-sized soft bristled toothbrush with a smear of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Fluoride protects teeth from decay. Fluoride can be found in toothpaste, some foods, and in the drinking water of some cities and towns.
  • Schedule your baby’s first visit to a licensed dental provider when his or her first tooth erupts or by his or her first birthday.
  • Lead by example and be a role model for your child by eating healthy and brushing twice a day for at least 2 minutes each time.

Help children develop good oral hygiene habits to keep them healthy and smiling for life!

To find a dental home, information and educational materials, visit www.masshealth-dental.net.

For general oral health information, visit www.mass.gov/dph/oralhealth.

Written By:


Immunization Coordinator

Immunization Coordinator in the Bureau of Family Health and Nutrition

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