Taking care of your child's baby teeth is important!
First Visit by the First Birthday
Experts recommend that every child should start having his/her teeth checked by a dentist or doctor by the first birthday. Children can have a positive dental experience and parents can learn how to keep children’s teeth healthy. It’s OK if your child is older than one. If so, schedule his/her first dental visit now.
Toothbrushing is Important!
Start as soon as you see the first tooth.
Use a small soft toothbrush twice a day.
Use toothpaste – starting at age one. Just a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste (equal to a single grain of rice) helps protect teeth.
You should brush your child’s teeth until age 6 to 8 (when they have the muscle control to write in cursive). Children can practice with a toothbrush before or after you brush. Learn more about taking care of your child’s baby teeth in this brochure from the Washington Dental Foundation. Brushing Child's Teeth brochure.
Keeping Teeth Healthy
Bottles – If you give your child a bottle at bedtime or naps, give only water. Other liquids can pool in your child’s mouth while he/she sleeps and cause decay.
Fluoride – Ask your dentist or doctor about fluoride varnish. It is painted on the teeth to prevent early decay or even heal early decay.
Germs – If your mouth is healthy, your child is more likely to have a healthy mouth too. Germs cause cavities.
Did you know that you can pass germs which cause cavities by sharing saliva? Avoid sharing spoons and toothbrushes with your child or cleaning a dropped pacifier in your mouth.
'Lift the Lip' and Check Your Child’s Teeth
One of the best ways to prevent cavities is to lift the lip at least once a month. Lift or gently push the lip out of the way and look at the teeth for the following:
Look for white or brown spots or anything unusual.
Check along the gum line for plaque or a sticky film.
Check both top and bottom teeth and look at the back side of the front teeth – where milk pools and can cause cavities.
Be sure to have your child’s teeth checked by a dentist or doctor by age one or if you have a concern about what you see.
For healthy teeth, be aware of the kind of food and how often your child eats. Here are some tips:
- Serve your child milk and water – avoid juices and other sugary beverages
- Avoid “grazing” – snacking or sipping on sweet liquids or milk all day long
- Limit snacks that are high in carbohydrates and stick to teeth such as fruit leathers, crackers, and cookies
- Have your child drink lots of water after meals and snacks to help clean teeth.
Choose “tooth-healthy” snacks such as:
Baby Teeth Matter!
Some people think baby teeth aren’t important because they fall out, but that’s not true. Learn more about how baby teeth help your child chew food, speak clearly and guide adult teeth into place. Learn more on the Kids Oral Health website.