(HealthDay News) -- Yes, baby teeth are only temporary. But they're still susceptible to the pain and discomfort of tooth decay -- often dubbed "baby bottle tooth decay."

The American Dental Association suggests how to prevent the problem and keep your child's mouth healthier:

  • Don't share utensils with your child or put a pacifier in your mouth, which could transfer germs to your child.
  • Until the teeth start coming in, wipe baby's gums with a damp cloth.
  • Once the teeth start coming in, brush with a child-size toothbrush and water. Do not use fluoride toothpaste until age 2, or as recommended by the pediatrician.
  • Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste between ages 2 and 6.
  • Carefully monitor your child when brushing teeth until about age 6 or 7, until you're sure the child won't swallow toothpaste.
  • Never send your child to bed with a bottle.
  • Make sure your child's pacifier is always clean, and never dip it in honey or sugar water.
  • Promote healthy eating habits and encourage your child to drink from a cup by the first birthday.
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