Tooth decay, also known as dental cavities, is one of the most common chronic conditions suffered by children in the United States. The good news is, it’s preventable – and it all starts with healthy habits.
After Birth Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth after feedings by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. Before teeth erupt, clean your baby’s mouth with an infant toothbrush at bath time. This will help prepare your child for the teeth cleaning to come.
When Teeth Emerge Clean your baby’s teeth as soon as they emerge. Use a soft-bristled brush with no more than a smear of fluoridated toothpaste, and gently clean them in the morning and just before bed. Both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend using fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice as soon as your baby’s first tooth appears.
Until Age 6 Continue brushing – and when your child turns 3, begin using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. As soon as your child has two teeth that touch, you should begin daily flossing.
Most children lack the coordination to brush or floss their teeth on their own until about the age of 6 or 7. Up until this time, parents should supervise and brush their children’s teeth morning and night or as directed by their dentist.
Ages 6 and Up Your child’s permanent teeth should start coming in at this time. At this age, they should also continue the brushing and flossing routine on their own. Help your child adopt the healthy habits of brushing twice a day for two minutes with an age-appropriate fluoride toothpaste. Your child should also clean between the teeth once daily with floss.
“Once a baby is born, parents should work together to ensure a child receives proper dental care at home followed up with routine visits to the dentist. If healthy den-
tal habits start early, children will be far more likely to have healthy teeth and gums as adults and live healthier lives with beautiful smiles.” Kristen Conner, DMD Signature Smiles