Dental Care for Newborns and Toddlers

Dental problems can begin early, even before your baby's first teeth come in.

  • Begin cleaning your baby's gums right away.
  • Use a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water.

Dental Check-ups

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that all children should have a dental examination by their first birthday.

  • Schedule your child's first visit to a pediatric dentist when his or her first tooth appears, usually between six months to a year old.  
  • Schedule regular cleanings and check ups to make sure your child's mouth stays healthy.

Brushing & Flossing

As soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice a-day.

  • Use fluoridated toothpaste and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush.
  • For ages less than two, use only a "smear" of toothpaste to brush your baby's teeth.
  • For children age 2-5, you should increase the toothpaste to a "pea-sized" amount.

Children will often want to brush their own teeth, but you should supervise and help them get to those hard to reach places, especially in the back of the mouth. Help your child floss daily to get loose food particles stuck between teeth. If you're not sure how to help, talk to your child's dentist or oral hygienist. They can show you what to do.

Avoid Tooth Decay

Many do not realize that your baby's teeth are at risk for decay. The most common problem you want to prevent is "early childhood caries" (also known as baby bottle tooth decay). Give your child water in his or her bottle at bedtime instead of milk or juice. If a baby is put to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice, the liquid will remain on the teeth at night, allowing acids to develop that break down tooth enamel, which eventually leads to tooth decay.

TRICARE Dental Options

If not already enrolled, you may enroll your child at any time in the TRICARE Dental Program or the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program.

Last Updated 10/18/2013