Tips to keep your child’s teeth healthy

En Español

Are you brushing your baby’s teeth?

Dental caries (cavities) are considered the most common chronic disease of childhood in the United States. Therefore, good oral hygiene is extremely important to keep your children’s oral health in check.

What exactly are dental cavities?

Cavities, or dental decay, are the destruction of the outer layer of teeth (enamel). When someone doesn’t brush regularly or correctly, a sticky film of bacteria, also known as plaque forms on their teeth. Later, the sugars on the foods and drinks ingested feed the bacteria which in turn produce acids that attack the tooth enamel. As time goes on, the enamel can break down and little hole can form on the tooth, a cavity.


When should my child visit the dentist for the first time?

The first dental appointment should be at or near the first birthday.

What if my baby doesn’t have teeth yet? Do I have to clean his/her gums?

Infant oral care should start from the time your baby is born. Not only it’s important to keep the gums clear from bacteria and sugars, but also getting your baby used to having his mouth cleaned is an important first step. To clean your baby’s gums, simply wrap a moistened washcloth around your index finger and gently rub the baby’s gums with it.


When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?

As soon as the first tooth erupts, you should start brushing with fluoride containing toothpaste.

  • For kids younger than 3 years of age, use a smear of toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice). Yes, they will swallow a little bit of toothpaste as they are unable to spit it out… and it’s OK.
  • For kids older than 3 years of age, use a pea size amount. Always supervise your kids directly while brushing and teach them to spit out the toothpaste as soon as they can.
  • For kids 7-10 years old, you should still assist with brushing until they have mastered it on their own.


How can I prevent dental caries?

  • Brush after breakfast and before bed with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste
  • Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, a worn toothbrush won’t do a good job at properly cleaning the teeth.
  • Floss daily between any touching teeth. This will remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth where the toothbrush can’t reach.
  • Never put your baby/child to bed with a bottle or food.
  • Don’t use breastfeeding or a bottle as a pacifier.
  • Do not allow your child to walk around with a sippy cup or bottle for prolonged periods of time.
  • Limit the amount of sweet or sticky food for your child.
  • Offer your child nutritious and balanced meals and limit sugary snacking.
  • If your child is not established with a dentist, ask your pediatrician about the fluoride varnish application, which strengthens your children’s teeth.
  • Get your child established with a dentist and schedule regular visits for professional cleanings and oral examination.

Hope this helps! Let’s keep our kids’ oral hygiene a priority. Remember, practicing healthy habits can prevent cavities in infants and children.

Resources:

Infant oral care 

Oral Health Prevention

Mouth Healthy:cavities

Disclaimer: The content in this blog post is not to be considered medical advice and it is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your primary care provider. If you have specific questions, please contact your physician.