CHILDREN’S DENTAL HEALTH FACTS:
Stage 1: Babies’ first teeth (4 – 24 months)
- Even before they have teeth, infants should have their gums cleaned. Use a gauze pad or infant washcloth after feedings and before bedtime.
- Start brushing your baby’s teeth with water when the first one appears (usually between 4 months and 1 year) and brush with fluoride toothpaste once per week.
- Ideally your child’s initial dental visit should occur between the eruption of their first tooth and their first birthday, although cooperation usually isn’t easily achieved until age 3 or 4.
- Never allow a baby or toddler to fall asleep with a bottle that contains milk, formula, fruit juices, sweetened liquids or a pacifier dipped in sugar or honey. Substitute water if a bottle is necessary.
- Teach your child to use a cup at about 6 months of age. By the age of one, the bottle can be eliminated.
Stage 2: Small children learning to brush (2 – 4 years)
- At around age 2, begin using a pea-sized amount of children’s fluoride toothpaste and teach kids to spit out excess paste so they don’t swallow it.
- Around age 3, your child should be learning to brush using a small, circular brushing motion. However, make sure you brush for them afterwards to ensure their teeth and gums are properly cleaned until about the age of 6.
- By the time your child is age 3, he or she should have a complete set of 20 primary (baby) teeth.
Stage 3: More independent brushers (5 – 7 years)
- While your child is becoming more independent, brushing still needs supervision to create a consistent routine.
- Encourage your child to brush three times per day for 2 minutes, concentrating on the chewing surfaces of back teeth, where cavities often develop first.
- At around age 6 - 7, sealants should be placed on the newly erupted permanent first molars. This plastic material bonds into the pits and grooves of the chewing surfaces of back teeth to create a barrier against decay-causing bacteria.
- Some children should receive an orthodontic evaluation no later than age 7. Early examination and treatment may prevent or reduce the severity of malocclusions (or “bad bites”) in the permanent teeth.
Stage 4: Pre-teens with a mixture of primary and permanent teeth (8 – 12 years)
- The process of replacing primary teeth with permanent teeth can create challenges for your child such as tender gums, gaps, and tight spaces. Frequent parental reinforcement is critical to ensure that your child is brushing thoroughly.
- At age 12 or 13, your child will have 28 of their 32 permanent teeth. Sealants should be placed on the newly erupted permanent second molars. This is also the time period when orthodontic treatment is typically started.
Stage 5: Teenagers and young adults (13 – 21 years)
- At age 17 – 21, the health and positioning of the wisdom teeth (a.k.a. third molars) should be evaluated by your dentist. If the teeth are decayed or insufficient space exists for proper eruption, extraction by an oral surgeon may be indicated.
Dietary Recommendations (all ages)
- Eat a well-balanced diet characterized by moderation and variety.
- Always keep your mouth moist by drinking lots of water. Saliva protects both hard and soft oral tissues.
- When you eat carbohydrates, such as crackers, cookies and chips, eat them as part of your meal, instead of by themselves. Combinations of foods neutralize acids in the mouth and inhibit tooth decay.
- Foods that cling to your teeth promote tooth decay. So when you snack, avoid soft, sweet, sticky foods, such as cakes and candy. Instead, choose dentally healthy foods such as raw vegetables, fruit, jello, pudding, apple sauce, plain yogurt or cheese.
- Limit or avoid soda consumption. Diet or "sugar-free" soda has high acid content while “regular” soda has both high sugar and acid content. Brown sodas contain phosphoric acid, a chemical which has been linked to decreased bone density in females.
Safety for Active Children
- If your child participates in organized sports or recreational activities, a properly fitted mouthguard is essential to help cushion blows that might cause broken teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw.
Please ensure that your children have regular dental check-ups, professional teeth cleanings, and fluoride treatments every 6 months. Fluoride given at the dentist’s office twice yearly can reduce decay by 40%.Download Information Here