Creating good oral hygiene habits starts at a young age. By instilling these good dental habits into your child, you’ll be setting them up for success as they grow older.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children visit a dentist by age 1, or within 6 months of the appearance of the first baby tooth.
Typically, teething starts around 6 months and continues until 2-3 years of age. Front teeth first, back molars next and the gaps between front and back will fill in with canines by 18 months. If delayed, do not worry unduly; wait and rest assured that missing baby teeth is rare.
Before teeth erupt, clean your baby’s mouth and gums with a soft cloth or infant toothbrush. Lying baby back is the best position to be effective. Continue this practice as teeth erupt.
Once the first tooth arrives, clean your baby’s teeth with a toothbrush or a clean wipe, such as “Spiffy” wipes before the baby falls asleep.
Once the baby starts solid food, nursing can cause cavities. Try to wean the baby off of nursing in the middle of the night once solid foods have been started, or try to give your baby a sippy cup of water to clean their teeth after each nursing.
Avoid the early transmission of cavity-causing bacteria and viruses by limiting the sharing of utensils or cups with your baby.
Eliminate your baby’s “paci” and thumb and finger sucking habits before the age of 2 if possible. Those habits are difficult to forget!
Once your baby is walking, protect him or her from having injury and trauma to the mouth and teeth by placing barriers on sharp corners and hard surfaces.
Brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day: once in the morning and once at night using a “pea sized” amount of fluoridated toothpaste. The most important time to brush teeth is right before bedtime.
Schedule your child’s dental visits every 6 months. Routine teeth cleaning and regular check-ups help keep your child’s mouth healthy.
Keep an eye on snacking; ideally children should have no more than 3 snacks a day.
Begin flossing for your children when any two teeth are touching.
Avoid juices; limit the amount of juice to less than 6 oz per day.
Parents should supervise the brushing of teeth for children until they are at least 7-8 years old.
Parents should help floss their child’s teeth regularly once a day.
Permanent teeth emerge around age 6. Ask your pediatric dentist about sealants.
Some children might need interceptive orthodontics in this age group. Ask your pediatric dentist for a referral to an orthodontist.
Wear a mouthguard when activities involve a risk of falls, collisions, or contact. Pre-formed mouthguards can be purchased in sporting goods stores or online, customized mouthguards can be made by your pediatric dentist. Please call us for advice.
Encourage your teenager to brush twice a day and floss regularly; encouragement in proper brushing is needed in this age group.
Sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and junk food are consumed by many teens; healthier options should be encouraged.
Ask your pediatric dentist about sealants for the 12-year permanent molars.
Comprehensive orthodontic treatment occurs during this age group; discuss with your pediatric dentist the potential need for a referral.
Evaluation for possible wisdom teeth extraction occurs in later teen years.