Family Engagement FAQ
Q: When should I start brushing baby’s teeth?
A: Clean baby’s mouth like you clean the rest of her/him—even before teeth come in. Wipe baby’s gums and tongue with a clean, moist cloth. When the first teeth come in, brush gently with a soft baby toothbrush, with a smear (rice-sized) amount of fluoride toothpaste.
Q: My baby is teething and is so fussy. What can I do?
A: Teething biscuits or cookies are not good for teeth. Try a cold teething ring or a clean moist cloth.
Q: My grandma told me to dip the baby’s pacifier in honey to help him sleep. Honey is a natural sugar, so it won’t hurt his/her teeth, will it?
A: Any kind of sugar or sticky food can cause tooth decay. Besides creating a problem for your child’s teeth, honey is not recommended for infants because it may contain certain bacteria that could make your child sick.
Q: I only brush my baby’s teeth 3 or 4 days each week. The last time I brushed I saw some very white spots on the front of her teeth. Does this mean that her teeth are really healthy?
A: Those white spots may be the beginning stages of tooth decay. When the teeth aren’t brushed every day, the cavity-causing germs stay on teeth and can start to destroy the teeth. Check with the dentist right away in order to keep the white spots from developing into cavities.
Q: My mother watches my 18-month-old while I work. She lets my daughter walk around with a bottle of apple juice because it’s less messy than a cup. What do I say to my mom?
A: You could use 3 different approaches:
- The “natural” sugar in juice can cause tooth decay. Sipping on sweet drinks covers your child’s teeth in cavity-causing acids again and again each time she takes a sip. Those repeated “acid attacks” can weaken and destroy her teeth.
- Juice has no nutritional value. Try to serve whole fruits and vegetables since they have more nutrients and are higher in fiber which is good for everyone! Between meals, “water is first for thirst.” This helps establish a healthy, water-drinking habit.
- Suggest that your mother fill the bottle with water when you daughter is walking around, or try switching to a sippy cup filled with water.
Q: My two-year-old likes to eat toothpaste out of the tube. Will this help strengthen his teeth?
A: No. Children should not swallow toothpaste. Toothpaste is for teeth, not tummies. Remember—just a pea-sized amount! Putting the toothpaste on is a grown-up job. Keep toothpaste out of a child’s reach.
Q: My two year-old brushes all by himself! We don’t need to help him, do we?
A: It is wonderful that your child is showing independence, but two-year-olds do not have the coordination to brush well enough. After your child brushes, you can finish the job. Children need to be supervised and helped with brushing until they are between 6 and 8 years old or can tie their shoes.
Q: Why should I worry about baby teeth?
A: Baby teeth are important! They help children eat foods, form words, and hold space for adult teeth. Healthy baby teeth mean a healthy mouth for the adult teeth.
Q: We use a water filter at our house. Does this take out the fluoride?
A: The faucet or pitcher type filters do not remove fluoride from the water. Whole-house filtration or distilling systems usually remove fluoride. If your system removes the fluoride, check with your dentist or medical provider about giving your child fluoride drops or pills. Bottled water seldom has fluoride. It is better than a soft drink, but does not help strengthen the teeth like water with fluoride does.
Q: I don’t know if we have fluoride in our water. How can I find out?
A: Call your water supplier—water company or city utility—to see if there is fluoride in the water.