Bright Smiles for Children
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that the first dental visit should occur no later than 12 months of age. However, your preventive efforts can begin even earlier, with a pre-natal visit.
The first thing you should do to help prevent cavities in your baby is to obtain a dental check up and to fix all your cavities before the birth of the baby. Dental bacteria are transmitted from parents to baby (e.g. when babies are kissed in the mouth, or are fed with same spoon parents blow onto to cool off their food). The more bacteria in your mouth, the greater the chances of passing these bacteria to your baby.
The second thing is to make an appointment to see a dentist before the baby is born. The dentist will advise you regarding additional steps to ensure a clean mouth for your baby. The dentist will talk to you regarding fluorides, issues related to sucking on thumb, finger, or pacifier, breast-feeding, bottle use, teething, and how to clean teeth after they come into the mouth.
As a parent, you should know about good oral hygiene at home:
- Do not use bottle (milk, juice) at night for sleep, or “at will” while baby is awake.
- Clean infant’s teeth with a wet gauze to remove food particles.
- Infant receives appropriate fluoride supplementation, if necessary.
At 12 Months
- Make an appointment for the toddler’s first dental check-up and to determine his/her chances of new cavities in the future.
- Wean the toddler from the bottle.
- Encourage the toddler to drink from a cup.
- For children younger than age 3, caregivers should begin brushing children’s teeth as soon as they begin to come into the mouth. Caregivers should put no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice of fluoride toothpaste on the toothbrush (see picture).
At 3 Years
- For children ages 3 to 6, caregivers should put no more than a pea-sized amount (see picture) of fluoride toothpaste on the toothbrush.
At 4 Years
- Ensure that the child brushes his/her teeth twice a day with a pea-size amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Regularly supervise the brushing.
- If the child regularly sucks a pacifier or fingers or thumb, begin to intervene to help the child discontinue the habit.
At 6 years
- Ask your dentist about dental sealants. Sealants protect the top surface of the back teeth against cavities.
At this age, ideally:
- The child is under the care of a dentist.
- The child has no active cavities.
- The child has healthy oral soft tissues (gums)
- The child wears appropriate play and athletic protective gear.
By following these simple steps, we can increase the possibilities of your infant/child growing without cavities.
For more information, please call your dentist, or go to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry web-site at this address: www.aapd.org.