Healthy Oral Health Habits Start Early

When a child’s baby teeth first appear at six months of age or so, these teeth are at risk for decay.  Most decay in infants and toddlers is caused by what is known as “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay,” and usually occurs in the upper front teeth, although other teeth can be affected, as well.

Tooth decay in a young child is preventable.  Listed below are steps that can be taken to prevent tooth decay in young children.

  • Clean a baby’s mouth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth.
  • When a child’s teeth appear, brush them gently with a child-sized toothbrush and water.
  • As children age, teach them to brush their own teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, making sure they spit out the toothpaste.
  • Until you feel comfortable that your child can brush their teeth properly, continue to brush your child’s teeth twice a day.
  • When your child has two teeth that touch, you should begin flossing their teeth daily.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that a child’s first dental exam takes place within six months of the appearance of his first tooth.  A child’s first exam is basically for the dentist to examine a child’s mouth, to check for growth and development, and also to assist the child in feeling comfortable in being examined by a dentist.

At a child’s first visit, a dentist will not only examine your child and clean your child’s teeth, but will provide tips for daily care, inform you if your child is at risk for developing tooth decay, discuss teething, pacifier use, or finger/thumb sucking habits, and, if necessary, discuss treatment and schedule the next appointment.

Teaching your child the benefits of brushing and flossing at an early age can lead to a lifetime of healthy smiles.