Nanny and Au Pair Health Care Series
By Anne Merchant, Author of The Nanny Textbook

By the time children have reached their second birthday they are ready for their first visit to the dentist. It is important that the first dental visit be relaxing and uneventful. Be certain not to relay any negative feelings about visiting the dentist with youngsters. Any anxiety could cause children to fear going to the dentist which could affect their dental health for years to come, since people who fear dental visits avoid going for regular visits.

As soon as the first teeth appear, caring for teeth should become part of the daily routine for children.

How to Clean Baby Teeth

From birth until after teeth have erupted, use a piece of gauze or damp wash cloth to help remove plaque at bath time, at which time caregivers may introduce soft bristle toothbrushes.

Preventing Dental Disease

Never put babies to bed with a bottle. Not only is it dangerous since it may cause choking, but liquids like milk, formula, and juices can cause nursing bottle syndrome. Nursing bottle syndrome is a dental disease that rots the teeth, causing teeth to crumble. This may first appear as white spots on the teeth, which may later turn into yellow or brown spots. Early detection can prevent further decay and discomfort.

Nannies can help with the responsibility of caring for children’s teeth until they are about the age of seven. Preschoolers and young school-age children are not yet ready to care for their teeth properly without help from adult caregivers.

The Proper Toothbrush

Buy child-sized brushes with soft bristles that do not scratch gums. Never use a brush with hard bristles.

The Proper Way to Brush

The proper way to brush teeth is to hold the toothbrush at a 45 ° angle facing bristles where the gum line ends and tooth begins. This helps loosen and remove harmful bacteria before it is lodged under the gums. Gently brush all teeth surfaces thoroughly and both sides and top.

Setting a Good Example

Children learn better when caregivers illustrate the proper tooth brushing procedures for them. Nannies may want to brush their teeth at the same time as the children. Children love to imitate grown-ups and nannies can help with this important hygiene task at the same time.

Before Visiting the Dentist

1. Prepare children by explaining that the visit to the dentist in a very simple conversation. For example, start by saying, “Oh by the way…”

2. “The dentist is the tooth doctor and we have to go for a checkup.”

3. “You will sit in a Mommy, (Daddy), size chair that can move up and down so the dentist can look in your mouth.”

4. Nannies should role-play the dentist visit by pretending to be the dentist to help prepare children for the initial visit.

Prevention is Half the Battle

Do not give children soft drinks, candy, (especially sticky candy like licorice or taffy). Get in the habit of providing snacks like fresh fruit and vegetables to children. Nannies should check their teeth and clean them at least daily as soon as the first tooth appears. Ask the doctor about fluoride drops if their town water does not contain fluoride.

Have you had any positive or negative experiences taking children to the dentist?


  1. My charge has a gagging relex and throws up every time we visit the dentist. He cries and cries before visits in anticipation of throwing up. We do go to a pediatric dentist but that knows he has a gag reflex. Very difficult. I wish the parents took him instead of me because it’s very stressful.Nanny in New England

  2. This is what bothers me about some parents. When a child has a gag reflex or is going through anything the child feels is scary the parents need to stay home from work that day and help the nanny and their child out. Why have kids if you cannot pitch in when needed? It’s the parents responsiblity to help the kids through difficult times.

  3. Parents need to be helping nannies when it comes to taking kids to the dentist or doctor, especially young children or those that are sensitive. Too much stress on a child and the nanny. I urge parents to take care of these most important appointments with their children and don’t leave learning and growing to the hired help. If you don’t want to take kids to doctor or dentist visits don’t have kids.Seattle Nanny

  4. Yeah, a parent should know his/her child way better than the nanny, especially at times when the kid is having firsts. Dental care is a thing of concern because these lily morsels are a child's means of getting nutrition– a means to feed on their own.

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