The Importance of Dental Health for Kids

Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease – even more chronic than asthma and childhood obesity. To set your child up for a lifetime of healthy teeth and oral care, it’s important to establish dental routines and find a dental home early in their life.

Start Early, Start Strong

Starting a dental routine with children can be easy with preparation and the proper support. Use the following tips and tricks to keep your family smiling.

  • Wipe gums. Oral health starts before your kids even have teeth! Introduce oral hygiene to your baby by wiping down their gums. This gets them used to having things put into their mouths for the purpose of oral hygiene, while decreasing the amount of sugars and bacteria in their mouth.
  • Limit sugary drinks. When your baby is older and has some teeth, limiting the number of sugary drinks will decrease the likelihood of cavities and improve oral health. Encourage drinking water throughout the day and in between meals. Avoid giving milk and juice before bedtime.
  • Use fluoridated toothpaste. One of the best ways to prevent cavities is to use a toothpaste with fluoride. Fluoride can strengthen teeth and reduce the risk of cavities in both children and adults. Talk with your child’s dentist about how and when to introduce a fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Build a routine. Children build habits through routines. Schedule time in the morning and at night to brush and floss their teeth. A good rule of thumb is that if a child is unable to tie their shoelaces, the child likely still needs adult help in brushing teeth.
  • Brush together. For children who may be reluctant to start brushing, practice your dental hygiene together – brush your teeth together and show them how it’s done!

Finding a Dental Home

The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry advise that children have their first dental visit when their first tooth is visible or by age one, whichever comes first. See if there is a pediatric, or child-focused, dentist in your area. These providers can offer specific tips on dental care for kids and know what to look for when it comes to your child’s oral health.

Written by J.R. Franco, DDS