Caring for your child’s teeth

Caring for your child’s teeth

Do you ever wonder if you’re properly caring for your child’s teeth? This form will help you determine what is needed to keep your child’s smile happy and healthy at every age.

Regular Doses of Prevention

The American Dental Association* suggests you establish daily dental care routines for your child. Simple daily habits go a long way toward preventing decay and preparing for a life of good oral health.

Daily Habits:

We are all creatures of habit and you are the one molding your child’s habits while they’re still young. You have a real opportunity to do the simple things that go a long way. Things like regular brushing and flossing, no bottles in bed and brushing after snacks, and establishing a relationship with your dentist help create lifetime habits. There are age specific steps you can do to help develop these habits in your child.

 Brushing:

Ages 0 – 2: Wipe out their help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
Ages 2- 8: Supervised brushing. Initially you’ll help your child learn specific techniques. Next you’ll establish quality and performance levels. Helpful reminders and hints like “Oh, you missed a spot” and “Let’s get all the cavity monsters” will go a long way.
Ages 9-11: Reminding role. Your reminders of when and how to brush will help your child set important lifelong habits that will protect them against cavities and prevent oral health issues.

 Flossing:

Ages 0 – 2: Let your child see you flossing regularly. Modeling for young children shows them what is important to you. It also gives them a chance to picture themselves doing as you do.
Ages 2 – 8: Assist with flossing. Flossing should begin as soon as teeth are touching. Even before that it is important to get your child accustom to the feel of floss.

Ages 9 – 10: Continue to encourage your child. Teach your child how to floss on their own then remind them to floss regularly. Remember food between teeth is a big cause of cavities. Flossing helps prevent these types of cavities.

Visiting The Dentist:

Children form life long feelings about a dentist from their early experiences. How will you assure your child has a good experience? How will you make your child’s dentist visits work for you?

 First Few Visits:

Fun and Smiles is the goal of the first visit. You may want to take a non- appointment visit to meet the dentist before your child’s first appointment. Some dentists have kid areas. Many dentists let the kids play with the equipment to get familiar with it. Others explain what they are doing as they do different procedures. Many dentists give toothbrushes, floss and toys to finish off the visit with good feelings.

 First Cleaning:

During your child’s first visit, a cleaning is possible. Professional cleanings take care of areas often missed in brushing. Make sure the Hygienist takes time to let your child know just what is happening. Having some fun during the cleaning will help your child better about the experience.

 First Exam:

The first few exams should help your child get comfortable with the dentist. You can request staying with your child for the entire exam. If your child is the least bit uncomfortable, you may want to spread the exam over several visits. Having the dentist focus on most likely problem areas makes shorter visits possible if your child becomes fidgity. Don’t make them sit longer than their attention span can handle. Help your child have a great exam.

 Pattern of Regular Visits:

Setting up a regular pattern for visiting the dentist helps your child know visits are just part of growing up. Most offices have children return every 6 months like adults. You may want to talk your dentist into shorter visits every 3 months. Visiting more often breeds familiarity. Shorter visits take away uncomfortable feelings and keeps the dentist and staff focused on the most important concerns with each visit.

 After Each Visit:

Take time to talk about the appointment. Help your child talk about what happened and how they felt about it. See if you can help them talk about why going to the dentist is important. Smile and laugh about the fun and enjoyable things that happened during the appointment.

Ongoing Care and Concerns

Preventative care and regular visits help set up patterns for preventing cavities and other problems but what about specific procedures or industry practices? How will they affect my child? You will want to anticipate what your dentist will be recommending and make informed decisions for your child. Here are a few to consider:

 X-rays

First x-rays for most kids take place between ages of 5 or 6 as they begin to get their permanent teeth. Children with high risk conditions may need an x-ray sooner. We use only digital x-rays at our office. Digital x-rays use less radiation than typical x-rays and there is no wait time for exposure, they easily loaded onto a computer after being taken. X-rays help provide a lot of detail for the dentist and help detect cavities and check the health of the roots and surrounding bones.

 Fluoride

Fluoride is a part of most dentist treatment plans. You will want to understand the issues that surround fluoride use in prevention efforts. Suggest the fluoride use for your child be balanced with real needs and not just blanket solutions that do not take into account your child’s individual needs.

 Sealants

Your child can benefit from the additional protection provided by sealants. Industry practice suggest applying sealants to permanent teeth as they come in. Insurances support this preventative practice because it does reduce cavity risks thus saving expensive procedures later. Application of sealants usually begins around ages 5 or 6 depending on when permanent teeth begin coming in.

 Orthodontics

Parents should have orthodontics discussions with their dentist or orthodontist when their child is around 7 or 8. Several things can be done in earlier ages that will greatly reduce the need for braces or reduce the length and intensity of braces in their teen years. Proceeding with a plan keeps you on top of your child’s needs.

Accidents and Emergencies

Your child is always on the go. Some of their activities may increase the risk of tooth damage. Accidents do happen. Maybe you have a child with a chipped or traumatized tooth – now what?

 Accidents and Emergencies

Protection and prevention are preferred to accidents. If accidents do happen, contact your dentist. Many dentists have ways to contact them after hours for emergencies. If in doubt, reach out and make the call to make sure things are OK. Accidents involving more than teeth should be handled by appropriate professionals.

 Protection

Many dentists offer protective mouth guards at no or minimal cost. As your child becomes more active, encourage the use of mouth guards to reduce risks of chips or more severe dental damages.


Using protective gear and equipment is only part of the formula for safeguarding your child’s teeth. Prevention involves deciding when it is wise to wear mouth guards. It also involves helping kids decide about the types of activities to be involved with.