Cleaning Your Baby’s Gums from Day One

Our babies also need daily oral hygiene and care. Although most babies will be toothless until around six months, it is important to clean their gums daily and after feedings to wipe away any built-up germs/bacteria.

To care for your baby’s gums, all you will need is a clean/sterile washcloth or some gauze and a little bit of water. Once a day, wet a wash cloth or gauze with water, wrap it around your index finger, and gently wipe across the outside and inside of both the upper and lower gums. Once solid foods are introduced be sure to clean the gums after every meal.


Your baby may start teething any time within the first year. Teething may make your child irritable or fussy. Some common symptoms include drooling, increased chewing, sore gums, restlessness, or loss of appetite. You may try soothing the gums by rubbing gently with a clean finger, using a moist gauze or letting them chew on a cold teething ring.

If your baby appears sick or has a fever, please call your baby’s doctor.

Brushing your Baby’s First Teeth

Most often, a baby will have their two front bottom teeth come in when they are around 6-10 months old. Once these first teeth come in, you can brush them with a grain-sized amount or a smear of fluoridated toothpaste. Be sure to brush all surfaces of the tooth to prevent tooth decay.


Sucking is a normal part of growth that is comforting to children well into their first years of life. If you choose to have your infant suck on a pacifier, take the following safety precautions:

  • Keep the pacifier clean.
  • Never dip the pacifier into honey or anything sweet before giving it to a baby.
  • Never attach a pacifier to your baby’s crib or body with a string, ribbon or cord.
  • A pacifier’s shield should be wider than the child’s mouth. Discontinue use if the child can fit the entire pacifier in his mouth.
  • Inspect pacifiers frequently for signs of wear; discard if the bulb has become sticky, swollen, or cracked.

For information on the pros and cons of pacifiers, check out the links below.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is Preventable

The sugar in milk can cause severe tooth decay when it sits on a baby’s teeth for extended periods of time. This condition is so common that dental professionals have begun to call it, “bottle rot decay.” Bottle rot decay involves severe cavities in a child’s upper front 4-6 teeth that can develop as early as age one, leading to the need for extensive dental treatment.  To avoid this condition, do not let your child sleep with a bottle of milk in their mouth. Instead, try switching out the milk with some safe tap water just before bed or as soon as your baby falls asleep, remove the bottle from their mouth. If your infant uses a pacifier, avoid dipping it in sweetened foods like honey, syrup, etc. This can also promote tooth decay!

Watch for Signs of Cavities

Your baby will not be able to communicate dental pain they are suffering from. It is important to perform regular visual checks on your baby’s first teeth:

  • White and brown spots on your baby’s teeth are early signs of cavities.
  • Black spots, and holes in your baby’s tooth are signs of moderate to severe tooth decay.

When signs of moderate to severe tooth decay are visible, it is wise to schedule a visit with your dental provider, to prevent the infection from spreading.

Cavities are Contagious

It is not a well-known-fact, but cavities are also contagious, and can be spread from person to person. Certain bacteria found in the adult mouth can lead to tooth decay (caries).  Avoiding or delaying transferring these bacteria from the adult mouth to the infant mouth can decrease a child’s risk of tooth decay.  Moms and other caregivers should avoid behaviors that directly pass saliva to the infant.  Don’t share toothbrushes, utensils or cups with your baby.  Don’t clean off a pacifier in the parent’s or caregiver’s mouth.  Do not put anything in a child’s mouth if it has been in another person’s mouth.