Start Early! Oral Care For Kids

When should I schedule my child’s first dental appointment? Are certain foods more likely to cause tooth decay? What’s the best way to brush my child’s teeth?

Almost all the parents have these questions about their child’s dental care. They know they want to prevent cavities, but many are not sure about the best way to do so.

Here are the answers to most frequently asked questions.

When should dental care start

It should start before a child’s first tooth appears. Children’s primary(baby) teeth begin to form at the second trimester of pregnancy. At birth, a newborn has 20 primary teeth, but these teeth are still hidden in the gum.

Running a clean damp gauze or washcloth over your baby’s gums, once daily, helps to clear away harmful bacteria. Once the baby teeth start to appear(around 6 months), with a soft toothbrush, brush twice daily (morning and after dinner).

When to visit a dentist

Experts agree that the best time for the first visit to a dentist is by the first birthday of your child. Idea of such early dental visits is surprising to many new parents, but several studies have shown that cavities are prevalent in preschool-aged children. Many children get cavities as early as age 2.

If you haven’t taken your child for a dental visit, make an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible. After the first visit, follow the dentist’s guidelines about the follow-up visits.

Foods that cause tooth decay

We all know that sweets are the number one reason for tooth decay, the longer and more frequently your child’s teeth are exposed to sugar, the greater the risk of cavities. But, what many parents are unaware of is that there are many types of food that can lead to cavities. Foods that are high in carbohydrates, carbonated drinks, and sticky foods such as candies, cookies, doughnuts, potato chips, jelly beans, dried figs, raisins etc., they all can contribute to tooth decay. Admittedly, you cannot stop your child from eating all of this, but ensure that the teeth are properly brushed and flossed after consumption of such foods.

While what your child eats is important for healthy teeth, frequency of eating is important too. Frequent snacking increases the risk of cavities. Try to replace the between-meal snacks with healthier alternatives. Fresh fruits, vegetables and cheese are perfect choice to maintain your child’s pearly whites.

Best way to brush children’s teeth

Before your toddler turns two, use toothpaste not more that the size of a rice grain. After the second birthday, begin using pea-sized amount of a fluoridated toothpaste. Since young children tend to swallow the toothpaste, be sure to follow these recommendations.

With a soft-bristled toothbrush clean both inside and outside surfaces of the teeth. As the bacteria that cause bad breath resides on the tongue, don’t forget to clean it too. Brush twice daily (morning and after the dinner).

As soon as your child’s two teeth start touching each other, floss between them once daily.

Since most children won’t be able to brush their teeth well on their own until they are about 8 years old, parents should assist them. If your child wants to brush his/her own teeth, it’s alright to let him/her do it, but, afterwards you should brush your child’s teeth the second time.


As the saying goes “Our mouth is a window into our body’s well-being”, maintain your child’s oral health and continue to garner the beautiful smiles of your happy and robust lil angel.


About the Author
Shweta Sharma is a Dental Surgeon, a writer, a mother & a wife. She lives with her husband and her only daughter in Bangalore, India

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply