Oral Health for Kids
Updated: Jan 11
Many parents seem surprised when I inquire about dental habits and overall oral health.
Believe it or not, I do care about your child's mouth. Proper dental care is important to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy for a lifetime.
Outlined below you will find how to care for your little one’s mouth throughout the stages of childhood:
Healthy gums=healthy teeth. Clean your baby’s mouth with a soft rag or cloth after feedings
Never prop the bottle or allow your child to go to sleep at night with the bottle in his or her mouth
Never use the good ole’ “mom will clean it off” strategy where you pop the dropped pacifier from the floor into your mouth. Bacteria that you may have in your mouth can be transmitted to your child’s mouth, causing tooth decay
Teeth typically begin to erupt after 6 months of age. Once your child sprouts a tooth, begin brushing using a soft bristle toothbrush and a GRAIN OF RICE size amount of fluoridated toothpaste
Once teeth erupt, it is important to avoid overnight feeds. Infants can go through the night without feeds typically beginning at 6 months
If your water is not fluoridated, inquire about fluoride supplements and varnishes once teeth have erupted
Try to have your child transitioned off the bottle and onto the cup by 12-15 months of age
Provide only clean pacifiers and try to eliminate it by 12-15 months of age
It is recommended that your baby be seen by a pediatric dentist after teeth begin to erupt and by no later than their first birthday
Continue dental visits every 6 months and as needed
Be sure to check your child’s teeth, looking for brown or white spots or any abnormalities. If anything looks off, make an appointment with his or her dentist
Be sure to offer ONLY water in the sippy cup. I do not recommend juice, Gatorade, sweet tea, soft drinks, or flavored water at this age
Offer meals and snacks with fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, proteins, and whole grains. Avoid sugary foods such as fruit snacks, gummies etc.
When able to spit out toothpaste and not swallow it, usually by age 3, start using a pea size amount of toothpaste twice daily while brushing teeth
Once your child has two teeth that are close together, typically after age 2, it is time to add supervised flossing into the daily routine
Continue dental visits every 6 months for cleanings and possibly visit the orthodontist depending on recommendations
Check in with your child and make sure they are ACTUALLY brushing their teeth for a full 2 minutes twice daily. There are even toothbrushes with timers on them.
Kids are..err.. Sometimes lazy. Many times, I find that kids do not brush their teeth at night because they are already cozy in bed, and don’t want to get up again. I recommend that my patients keep an extra toothbrush in the shower. This way, they can brush their teeth while showering prior to bed
Continue to monitor what your child is eating and drinking at friends’ houses and parties to ensure they are avoiding excessive sugary beverages and snacks
As your child reaches middle school and high school, have conversations with them regarding tobacco usage and the increased risk of mouth cancers
What is the biggest hurdle you’ve faced with your child’s oral health?
Until next time,