1. Keep Gums Clean

Good oral hygiene for babies starts at birth. Both breastmilk and formula contain natural sugars that oral bacteria love to feed on. So after a feed, gently wipe down your baby’s gums and mouth with a soft, clean cloth. Not only will this keep bacteria at bay, it will also get your baby used to oral hygiene. By the time you introduce things like toothbrushing and dental check-ups, your baby will already be comfortable with having their gums and teeth cared for.

2. Get Ready for Teething

Baby’s first tooth should appear around the 6-month mark, but some babies start teething slightly earlier or later than this. Before a tooth breaks through, you might notice your baby’s gums are red and swollen. They might be fussy or upset during this time. 

It’s important to keep up your baby’s oral hygiene routine during teething, but you might need to adjust your approach with those tender gums. Give your baby a chilled teething ring to suck on before you try to clean them, as this can help to numb the baby’s gums. It might also help teething pain to wet the cloth or gauze with very cold water and gently massage their gums as you clean them. 

3. Transition to Brushing

Healthy teeth mean happy gums! So once that first little tooth pops up, grab the babyir toothbrush – !. Now is the it’s time to start brushing your baby’s teeth. Choose a specially formulated baby toothpaste which contains an age-appropriate amount of fluoride. You’ll only need a tiny amount – no bigger than a grain of rice. Brush their teeth and gums gently and thoroughly, twice a day, using a baby toothbrush designed for little mouths. 

4. Avoid Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Another way to keep your baby’s gums healthy is to avoid baby bottle tooth decay. This happens when the baby’s teeth are bathed in liquids (other than water) for extended periods. For example, if your baby goes to bed with a bottle of milk and drinks throughout the night, or uses a bottle to self-soothe. It most commonly affects the front teeth, but can affect any tooth. And because tooth decay in baby teeth can also affect the permanent teeth that come afterwards, baby bottle tooth decay can have a lifelong impact on your baby’s oral health. Here’s how to avoid it: 

  • Maintain a good oral hygiene routine for your baby. 

  • Avoid putting sugary liquids like juice or soda in their bottle. 

  • Make sure your baby finishes feeding before bed; don’t put them to bed with a bottle. 

  • When breastfeeding, remove the baby from the breast once they’re asleep.  

  • Encourage soothing with a pacifier rather than a bottle. 

  • Don’t dip pacifiers in honey or other sweet substances. 

5. Limit Sugary Foods

Like most of us, babies love sweet, sugary foods and drinks. However, sugary foods encourage bacteria build-up and plaque, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Try to keep sweet treats for special occasions and opt for oral health-friendly meals and snacks on a day-to-day basis. Foods like soft, cooked carrots, mashed sweet potatoes, and mashed cauliflower. It can provide a little sweetness without the high sugar content.

6. See The Dentist

Take your baby for their first dental visit as soon as their first tooth comes in, or by no later than their first birthday. You can take them to your own general family dentist, or opt for a pediatric dentist if you prefer more specialized care. The dentist will examine your baby’s teeth and gums to check they’re healthy and developing as expected. They can also give you advice and guidance on general oral care for your baby and answer any questions you may have. 

Long before that first tooth arrives, your baby’s gums are there forming the foundation of their oral health. Keeping your baby’s gums healthy as they grow into a toddler and beyond is the first step to a lifetime of many happy smiles. And that's all any parent could want for their child.

Frequently Asked Questions About Baby Gum Health

What are the signs that my baby's gums are healthy?

Healthy baby gums should be pink and moist. In younger babies without teeth, some babies have paler areas on the ridges of the gums where the teeth will eventually come through.

When should I start cleaning my baby's gums and how should I do it?

You can start cleaning your baby’s gums at birth. Use a soft, clean cloth or gauze and gently wipe down the gums and inner cheeks. 

What are common gum problems that babies experience?

Teething is the most common gum problem in babies. Their gums may be swollen and red while the tooth is erupting, and the baby might be fussy or upset. 

How can I soothe my baby's gums during teething?

Try giving your baby a chilled teething ring to bite on, or gently massage their gums with a chilled washcloth. 

Are there natural remedies to alleviate discomfort in a baby's gums during teething?

Chilled, soft foods like yogurt or mashed vegetables can help to give your baby natural relief from teething. We don’t recommend natural teething remedies like amber necklaces as these pose a choking hazard to babies. 

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 


What's behind your smile?

Take our Oral Health assessment to get the most from your oral care routine


2.3 billion

people worldwide suffer from tooth decay


What's behind your smile?

Take our Oral Health assessment to get the most from your oral care routine


2.3 billion

people worldwide suffer from tooth decay