Healthy teeth and gums are essential for a healthy body. From their first baby teeth to their adult teeth, you can help your children enjoy a lifetime of good oral health with proper care at home, a balanced diet and regular dental visits.
Care for Your Infant
- Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth. Wipe your baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad after each feeding to remove plaque and residual food that can harm erupting teeth.
- When your child’s teeth begin to erupt, brush them gently with a child’s size toothbrush and water (toothpaste is used for children two and older).
- To prevent tooth decay, infants should finish their bedtime and naptime bottle before going to bed.
- If you use a pacifier, use a clean one. Never give a baby a pacifier dipped it in sugar or honey.
- With your child’s first birthday, begin regular dental check-ups for “smile” insurance.
Prevent Tooth Decay
- Maintain a balanced diet for your child by selecting foods from the five main food groups—fruits, vegetables, meat, grains and dairy.
- Limit between-meal snacks. If your child needs a snack choose nutritious foods from the main food groups rather than cookies, candy and other sweets.
- Ensure that school food services and vending services offer nutritious selections.
- Encourage children and adolescents to drink water.
Encourage Brushing & Flossing
- Brushing twice a day and flossing are necessary to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
- A pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste for children two and older is all that is needed.
- Make sure your child spits out the toothpaste rather than swallowing it.
- For young children, select a child-size toothbrush with soft bristles.
- Children should be able to brush alone by age seven.
- Replace toothbrushes every three to four months.
- Use floss as soon as the child has two teeth that touch.
- Ask your dentist or hygienist to demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques.
- Supervise your child’s brushing and flossing until you are satisfied they are doing both properly.
Make Dental Visits Enjoyable for Your Child & You
- Schedule the dental appointment for a time when your child feels rested and cooperative. Avoid nap and mealtimes if possible.
- Don’t let anyone tell your child scary stories about dental visits.
- Don’t let your child know if you feel any anxiety about going to the dentist.
- Don’t bribe your child to go to the appointment.
- Never use a dental visit as a punishment or threat.
- Do try to make your child’s dental visit an enjoyable outing.
- Set a good example by taking care of your oral hygiene and health.
- ADA Seal of Acceptance
- Animations: Tooth Eruption & Shedding/Brushing/Flossing
- Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
- Braces & Orthodontics
- Choosing a Dentist
- Dental Emergencies
- Dental Products
- Dental Sealants
- Diet & Oral Health
- Games for Children
- Marty Visits the Dentist Interactive Story
- Oral Piercing
- Pregnancy and Oral Health
- Smoking (Tobacco) Cessation
- Space Maintainers
- Tooth Decay (Cavities/Caries)
- Water Filters
When Should Children Get Braces?