Proper dental care is important to a child’s overall health. Helping children to develop healthy dental habits early can impact their overall health as they grow.
To care for an infant’s gums and teeth, rub them with a clean, damp washcloth. After teeth have erupted use a small, soft brush to clean the teeth.
As soon as teeth erupt, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend using a small smear of flourinated toothpaste. For children ages 3 to 6 years of age, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends brushing their teeth using a pea-sized amount of fluorinated toothpaste.
To avoid overuse, nannies and parents should put the toothpaste on the child’s toothbrush. Children should be reminded to spit out and not swallow toothpaste after brushing. If the child will not spit out the toothpaste parents may wish to discuss using non-fluorinated toothpaste with their child’s dentist.
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, children should see the dentist for the first time when their first tooth appears and no later than their first birthday. The child’s dentist can recommend a specific program of care that may include brushing, flossing, fluoride and other treatments.
Many parents and caregivers use “numbing gels” or oral pain relievers for teething infants and children. This practice is no longer recommended. In a May 2018 press release, the US Food & Drug Administration issued a statement that read “Over the counter oral health products containing the pain reliever benzocaine for the temporary relief of sore gums due to teething in infants or children should no longer be marketed.” The FDA is also asking companies to stop selling these products for such use and stated if the companies do not comply, it will initiate a regulatory action to remove these products from the market.