Meng-Chieh Lee D.D.S., M.M.Sc.

What Expecting Parents Should Know – Oral Care Throughout Childhood

Now that you know how early your child’s teeth begin to develop, you know that it’s never too early to start thinking about oral hygiene. Here are two factors that can have a major impact on your newborn’s oral health – one positive and one negative:

  • Fluoride. Fluoride exists naturally in some water sources, but it’s often added elsewhere. Don’t worry, this isn’t a bad thing! Fluoride, especially at an early age, helps your children’s teeth and gums develop. The bacteria in the mouth combine with sugar and produce acid. This can ruin enamel and lead to severe tooth damage. Fluoride helps to protect children’s teeth and can prevent and reverse early tooth decay. Check out My Water’s Fluoride to find out the status of your town or city. If your local water source isn’t on the list, speak with your dentist about supplemental fluoride.
  • Bacteria. We aren’t born with bacteria in our mouth – we pick it up along the way. The bacteria that causes dental decay and periodontal disease is communicable. Most children share the same bacterial profile as the primary caregiver, typically the mother or the nanny. If mom or the nanny has a high rate of cavities it is likely the child will as well! So, it’s a good idea to be cautious. Don’t share spoons, “wash off” utensils with your own saliva, or smooch on the lips.

The First Year

As your children grow you’ll realize that when it comes to their teeth, the basics for them are the same as they are for you! Here are a few ways to guarantee that they teeth remain just as healthy as they grow:

  • A healthy diet is one of them most important things for your child. Try to stay away from super sugary snacks, like cookies, gummies, or fruit snacks. Soda is full of sugar – most juices too. Limit intake as much as possible and focus on water! Raisins can harm their teeth as well. People think that they’re a healthy yet sweet alternative, but because of their sticky nature they can be as bad for teeth as gummy bears.
  • Drink fluoridated water. If there aren’t any local pollutants, it’s completely safe (and recommended) to drink your community fluoridated water. Your little one is building strong adult teeth under their gums now!
  • Teething can be a tough time for both you and your little ones! However, teethers can help to ease the pain for your baby. We recommended the Nuby Teethe-eez™ Soft Silicone Teether. The little fingers are soothing for your baby while they are teething, but they also brush the new baby teeth as your little one chews.


Your child’s first dental visit should be his or her first birthday. As more teeth come through, there will be different things to consider. Here are a few tips to keep your toddler’s smile happy and healthy:

  • Giving up the bottle. It’s recommended that you switch from a bottle to a sippy cup at about one year old.
  • No more milk before bed. Milk sitting on the teeth overnight can cause what is known a baby bottle decay. Rampant decay on primary / baby teeth.
  • Practice spitting. This one may sound silly, but it’s advised that children who cannot spit shouldn’t be using fluoride toothpaste and products. Once they can spit, you can introduce it to them.
  • Drink tap water. If your child is drinking mostly bottled water, use a fluoride supplementation.

As They Grow

As your children age, you should continue to practice good oral health with them. Habits begin early on – both good and bad! Starting early will help your child continue good oral hygiene habits throughout childhood and into adulthood. If you ever have any questions along the way, give us a call! We’re happy to help!

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