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Your baby’s oral health care should begin at birth since the teeth are already there, hidden in the gums. It is recommended by the American Dental Association that children visit the dentist when the first tooth erupts or by their first birthday. There are steps you should take at home to care for your child’s smile as it develops.

A baby’s primary teeth typically erupt around six months, and most children have all 20 teeth by the time they are three years old. These teeth begin to fall out around the age of six and are replaced with permanent adult teeth, all of which should be in place by the age of 13.

Gums: Even before your baby’s teeth appear, you should wipe their gums with a clean, damp washcloth or piece of gauze after each feeding to remove bacteria.

Baby teeth: When the teeth erupt, use a soft-bristled baby toothbrush and plain water to brush gently several times a day. Avoid using any toothpaste until your child reaches two years of age. Don’t give your baby a bottle of juice or milk at naptime or bedtime, or else the sugar can cause tooth decay and the sucking can misalign the teeth. Even if your baby has no visible teeth, the formula or breast milk can introduce sugar that becomes bacteria and builds around the gums and lips.

Toothpaste: About the age of 24 months, your child’s toothbrush can receive a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Help your child clean their teeth until they develop the ability to do it themselves, usually about the age of six. You can help your child to build good oral care skills by having them start off brushing, and then you finish the process.

Dental floss: Your child’s teeth should be flossed when two adjacent teeth erupt, usually about the age of two to two and a half. Most children require assistance with flossing up until the ages of 8-10 years when they can floss without supervision.

By helping your child take excellent care of their teeth and gums, they can enjoy a lifetime of healthy smiles. Please feel free to contact First Care Dental at 502-893-5677 if you have any questions about your child’s oral health and would like to speak with our dentist in Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Norman Zanger, Dr. Scott Wathen, and Dr. Benjamin Taylor are happy to serve as a resource for you.