Understanding the Importance of Oral Hygiene for Infants & Toddlers

Oral hygiene should start right from the time a baby is born. Many parents are not aware of the importance of starting oral hygiene practices for their infants and toddlers. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), it is perfectly possible for infants and toddlers to develop cavities just like any grown up child or adult. This means that as a parent you need to pay extra attention to the oral hygiene of your baby. The ADA recommends that oral hygiene starts within the first month of the baby’s life.

Most parents do not clean the baby’s mouth after feeding nor do they monitor pacifier use. Developing an oral hygiene routine for your baby early on can lead to good oral health habits and at the same time help in preventing gum disease and tooth decay.

Infants and toddlers develop their first tooth at around six months of age. In fact there will be significant physiological changes in the mouth between six months and twenty four months. As a parent you should be mindful of the importance of oral hygiene for infants & toddlers especially since baby formula and milk contain sugar. Try to brush their tongue after feeding or at least let them drink some water before falling asleep to wash down the milk/formula. Take a clean cloth and wipe the insides of your baby’s mouth. You can also use a finger brush.

Infants and toddlers can develop cavities as soon as they develop their initial set of teeth. As a parent, check for chalky white or brown spots on the front and back of your baby’s teeth.  This will give you a clear indication of whether there are any potential problems.

It is important that you clean your baby’s mouth before the first set of teeth begin to sprout. Ensure that you clean your child’s mouth at bath time since the child is also in a relaxed and happy frame of mind. Brush with your toddler. Let them do what you are doing and let it become a habit early on. You can brush for them, but let them do it first. They will most likely just play around but they will still learn the good habit of brushing.

Monitor the use of a pacifier in your baby because sustained use even after the teeth have started to show up can affect the position of the teeth or jaw (orthodontic problems).  

 Cameron Torabi, DDS, FCII               

Please feel free to CONTACT US for any questions or concerns about your baby's oral health. (310) 481-0111