Children's Oral Health Tips articles

Children’s Oral Health Tips

Baby’s First Dentist Visit
Fluoride is Important to Your Child’s Health
Risk Factors for Infant Cavities
The First Tooth – Ages 0 to 23 Months
Basic Preventative Care – Ages 2 to 6
Sealants, Diet and the Tooth Fairy – Ages 7 to 12

Baby’s First Dentist Visit

During the first visit, the dentist will examine your child’s teeth for early signs of decay, but will also look for problems with the baby’s head, neck, jaws, skin and soft tissues in and around the mouth like the tongue, cheeks and lips. In addition, the dentist will also:

  • Assess the child’s bite, facial growth and development
  • Demonstrate various tooth brushing and flossing techniques and positions to help parents care for their baby’s teeth properly
  • Discuss diet and feeding/snacking practices that may put the child at risk for decay
  • Discuss the use of topical fluoride
  • Provide anticipatory guidance for trauma prevention

Back to top

Fluoride is Important to Your Child’s Health

Many communities now have fluoride added to the public water supply to provide residents with the proper amount of fluoride needed to ward off cavities. Talk to your dentist or hygienist to see if your child needs more fluoride. They can prescribe fluoride supplements to help protect your child’s teeth against decay.

Facts on Fluoride

  • In water it has been proven to reduce cavities by up to 50 percent.
  • Fluoride is a mineral that helps developing enamel become strong and resistant to decay.
  • Fluoride slows the growth of bacteria.

Back to top

Risk Factors for Infant Cavities

  • Siblings with dental decay before the age of 5.
  • Use of a bottle with milk or juice at nap time or before going to sleep.
  • Excessive sweets, juice or sticky foods in diet.
  • Inadequate brushing and cleaning routine.
  • Insufficient fluoride in water and lack of supplements.
  • Chalky white spots on teeth.

Back to top

The First Tooth – Ages 0 to 23 Months

  • Before your baby’s first tooth erupts, clean his or her gums with a damp washcloth after feedings. Cleaning your baby’s gums will help keep bacteria levels low and maintain a clean home for his or her new teeth.
  • Some babies experience sore gums and general discomfort when teething. Signs of teething include crankiness, lack of appetite, excessive drooling, restless behavior, pink or red cheeks, coughing, upset stomach and chewing or sucking on fingers and toys. You can help relieve the pain with teething toys or by giving your baby a cold, wet cloth to suck on.
  • Once the first tooth erupts, use a soft toothbrush and water to brush your baby’s teeth and gums in soft, gentle circles twice a day, and check for any spots or stains.
  • Within six months of getting the first tooth — and no later than the first birthday — your baby should have his or her first dental visit.

Back to top

Basic Preventative Care – Ages 2 to 6

  • By the time your child is two, or by the time he or she can spit, start using a pea sized dab of fluoride toothpaste. Be sure to train your child to spit out the toothpaste and rinse afterward.
  • Help your child brush properly twice daily, until he or she has the motor skills to handle the toothbrush alone.
  • Your child’s dentist will be able to spot any areas that may require extra attention when brushing. The dentist will also check for orthodontic problems, clean and polish teeth, apply a fluoride treatment and maintain a dental history for your child.

Back to top

Sealants, Diet and the Tooth Fairy – Ages 7 to 12

  • Your child’s dentist may suggest that your child get sealants on his or her permanent molars as soon as the teeth come in — before decay attacks the teeth. The first permanent molars — called “6 year molars” — come in between the ages of 5 and 7. The second permanent molars — “12 year molars” — come in when a child is between 11 and 14 years old.
  • Dental sealants are an easy, effective preventive measure. Once applied, they last about ı0 years, and will need to be checked periodically for chips and wear.
  • As a permanent tooth erupts, it pushes the primary tooth out of the way. Once a primary tooth is loose, have your child wiggle it back and forth or eat hard, crunchy foods to help it along.
  • Frequent snacking allows sugars to build up in the mouth, increasing the risk of decay. When your child does snack, offer nutritious options like raw veggies, plain yogurt or fresh fruit. Afterward, encourage your child to drink water to rinse away food particles.
  • Avoid sticky foods, such as chewy candy. These foods are not easily washed away by a drink or saliva, so they have high cavity-causing potential.
  • Make sure your child is getting the recommended supply of calcium. In addition to building strong bones, calcium helps keep the teeth, gums and jawbones healthy. Milk and other dairy foods are excellent sources of calcium.

Back to top


Polls

  • Do you brush your tongue?

    | View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
Print article | Share article: