Advice for Parents
Caring for Your Child's Teeth at Home
Starting at birth, you can protect your infant's oral health by gently cleaning their gums with a soft infant toothbrush and water.
Establish good oral health habits early. When your child is 12 months old, you can begin using toothpaste when brushing his or her teeth. Use a pea-sized portion on the brush and press it into the bristles so your child won't eat it. When the gaps between your child's teeth close, it's important to start flossing.
A great way to encourage positive dental habits is to serve as a role model by practicing good oral health care habits yourself.
Diet and Tooth Decay
An important part of caring for you child's teeth is diet. Reducing the amount of sugary snacks and drinks will greatly help prevent tooth decay, as will teaching your child to drink from a cup after his or her first birthday. Consumption of sugary drinks from a bottle has been linked to "bottle caries" and should be avoided.
Early diagnosis is important for successful treatment of periodontal diseases. Therefore, it is important that children receive a periodontal examination as part of their routine dental visits. Be aware that if your child has an advanced form of periodontal disease, this may be an early sign of systemic disease. A general medical evaluation should be considered for children who exhibit severe periodontitis, especially if it appears resistant to therapy.
Check your child's mouth for the signs of periodontal disease, including bleeding gums, swollen and bright red gums, gums that are receding away from the teeth and bad breath.
Encouraging a Lifetime of Dental Health
If your child currently has poor oral health habits, work with your child to change these now. It's much easier to modify these habits in a child than in an adult. Modeling good dental habits is one of the best ways to encourage your child to adopt these habits.
A healthy smile, good breath and strong teeth all contribute to a young person's sense of personal appearance, as well as confidence and self-esteem.