Dental Care for Your Child’s Teeth

Dubuque Family Dentists- Dr. Kristen Berning and Dr. Ted Murray

So your little one has teeth?   Congratulations!  :)

Dubuque Family Dentist

February is Dental Health Month, and here is our advice on how to care for  your child’s teeth:

Thank you for caring for your child’s dental health!  Our goal is to keep your child on the right track for a healthy smile.  “Baby” teeth need to be kept healthy, clean, and free of cavities to avoid unnecessary pain and infection.  Some of the “baby” teeth are not lost until age 12.

Before the first tooth comes in, clean your child’s mouth daily with a clean, damp cloth.  The American Dental Association recommends that children are seen by a dentist at age 1, and Dr. Kristen Berning welcomes you to bring your child in for this exam.  This first visit is to establish a positive relationship with you and your child, do a dental exam, and provide education on oral hygiene and nutrition.

Teething should not make your child sick.  A temperature of 101°F or higher is not due to teething.  If desired, use cool teething rings.  Do not use any numbing creams or gels.  Never put sugar or honey on a pacifier.

Sucking habits: Pacifier and finger sucking is considered normal in infants and young children.  To avoid teeth misalignment, monitor any excessive sucking habits.  If there is a choice between sucking a pacifier and a thumb, choose the pacifier as it will be easier to take away.  Finger or thumb sucking beyond age 3 may affect alignment of the permanent teeth.


  • Once a tooth appears, start using a small toothbrush with water.  Brush teeth thoroughly twice a day.
  • Children need an adult’s help until age 7, when they have developed the fine motor skills to do it without supervision.
  • Spinning or electric toothbrushes are generally not recommended, as they can be too bulky to fit in small spaces.  If used, a parent should follow up using a regular toothbrush.

Toothpaste:   Start using a small smear of fluoridated toothpaste when your child is 18-24 months old and encourage them to spit it out.  After they can spit (around age 3), use a “pea-sized” amount of toothpaste.

Flossing:  Begin flossing your child’s teeth when adjacent teeth are touching (around age 3), to prevent cavities between the teeth.  Have your child lay on a bed or couch, or with his/her head in your lap to make it easier.


  • Do not put your baby to bed (nap or bedtime) with a bottle.  Improper bottle use can cause severe decay.  The bottle is only to be used for breast milk or formula.  Wean from the bottle around age 1.
  • At age 1, your child needs 8 oz of fluoridated water daily to promote decay-resistant teeth.
  • Use a sippy cup for juice or milk at meal and snack time only.  Only offer water between meals.  For ages 1-6, limit juice to 4 oz (or less) a day.   Do not give your child soda pop, except as an occasional, special treat.  Pop is a leading cause of cavities.
  • Avoid sugary or starchy carbohydrate snacks that stick to the teeth and promote cavities.  Offer healthy snacks including fruits, vegetables, and cheese.

Dental Care for Mom’s & Dad’s teeth:  Keep your teeth healthy so you are a role model for your child.  Cavities in children can be caused by the transmission of bacteria from an adult’s mouth to the child.  Avoid sharing utensils (cups, spoons, etc.) with your child and do not clean a dropped pacifier with your saliva.  Brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily.  Avoid sugary beverages and snacks.  Drink water in between meals.  Schedule regular dental visits every 6 months.

Additional Resources:,

Exceptional Dentistry provides complete family, cosmetic, and sedation dental care at 4200 Asbury Road, Dubuque, IA 52002 and serves the Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Dubuque, IA and Galena, IL areas.  To schedule an appointment with Dr. Ted Murray or Dr. Kristen Berning, please call 563-556-2711 or contact us online.

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