Infants and Toddlers (0-3)

A Healthy Mouth is Important for Babies and Young Children

  • Children need healthy teeth to help them chew, speak and smile
  • Baby teeth hold space for adult teeth
  • Cavities can cause your child pain and serious health problems
  • Poor oral health can cause problems eating, speaking, learning and socializing
There’s good news. You can prevent tooth decay for your child!

How to Keep your Child’s Mouth Healthy

Regular dental visits and proper oral hygiene can keep your child’s mouth cavity free for life

  • Maryland’s Medicaid dental program, Maryland Healthy Smiles, provides free dental care for children from birth to 20 years old and during pregnancy.

Begin Early

  • Begin caring for your child’s mouth soon after birth
  • Wipe your baby’s gums daily, after feedings and before bedtime, with a clean, wet washcloth. This will get your baby used to having his/her mouth cleaned daily.

Take your child to the dentist by the 1st birthday

  • Schedule a dental visit around the time of your child’s first birthday
  • The dentist will identify any dental problems and will talk to you about how to prevent cavities for your child. This is also a great time for you to ask questions about any other concerns you may have.
  • Early dental visits gets your child familiar and comfortable with going to the dentist.

How to brush your babies’ teeth

  • Once teeth come in, brush twice a day with a “smear” (or rice size) amount of fluoridated toothpaste for children under age 3
  • Use a small, child-sized toothbrush
  • Lay your child down on a comfortable surface, like a changing table.
  • Position yourself behind baby’s head
  • Give child a toy to hold
  • Brush 2-3 teeth at a time

Other important dental habits

  • Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle
  • Avoid giving your baby foods and drinks containing sugar. Children should not have juice during their first year.
  • Avoid saliva-sharing activities such as sharing utensils, cleaning pacifier in mother’s mouth, etc., as cavity-causing bacteria can pass from mother to baby.
  • Relieve teething pain with over-the-counter pain medicine such as, Tylenol or ibuprofen and/or chilled teething rings. Do not use teething gels.
  • Lift your baby’s lip once a month to look for early cavities.
    • Early cavities look like white lines near the gum line.
    • If you find white lines make an appointment to take your baby to the dentist immediately.
    • Your dentist can treat these early cavities with fluoride preventing painful cavities from developing.

Many people don’t know about Medicaid dental coverage. If you do not have dental insurance for your child, are pregnant, or are considering pregnancy, contact Medicaid to see if you qualify for dental insurance.