Care of Your Child’s Teeth

Begin daily brushing as soon as the child’s first tooth erupts. A pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste can be used after the child is old enough not to swallow it. By age 4 or 5, children should be able to brush their own teeth twice a day with supervision until about age seven to make sure they are doing a thorough job.

Proper brushing removes plaque from the inner, outer and chewing surfaces. When teaching children to brush, place toothbrush at a 45 degree angle; start along gum line with a soft bristle brush in a gentle circular motion. Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower. Repeat the same method on the inside surfaces and chewing surfaces of all the teeth. Finish by brushing the tongue to help freshen breath and remove bacteria.

Flossing removes plaque between the teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing should begin when any two teeth touch. You should floss the child’s teeth until he or she can do it alone. Use about 18 inches of floss, winding most of it around the middle fingers of both hands. Hold the floss lightly between the thumbs and forefingers. Use a gentle, back-and-forth motion to guide the floss between the teeth. Curve the floss into a C-shape and slide it into the space between the gum and tooth until you feel resistance. Gently scrape the floss against the side of the tooth. Repeat this procedure on each tooth. Don’t forget the backs of the last four teeth.

Good Diet = Healthy Teeth

Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth. Like the rest of the body, the teeth, bones and the soft tissues of the mouth need a well-balanced diet. Children should eat a variety of foods from the five major food groups. Most snacks that children eat can lead to cavity formation. The more frequently a child snacks, the greater the chance for tooth decay. How long food remains in the mouth also plays a role. For example, hard candy and breath mints stay in the mouth for a long time, which cause long acidic attacks on tooth enamel. If your child must snack, choose nutritious foods such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese which are healthier and better for children’s teeth.

How Do I Prevent Cavities?

Good oral hygiene removes bacteria and the left over food particles that combine to create cavities. For infants, use a wet gauze or clean washcloth to wipe the plaque from teeth and gums. Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle filled with anything other than water. See “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay” for more information.

For older children, make sure they brush their teeth at least twice a day. Also, watch the number of snacks containing sugar that you give your children.

Your dentist may also recommend protective sealants or home fluoride treatments for your child. Sealants can be applied to your child’s molars to prevent decay on hard to clean surfaces.


A Sealant is a hardened plastic material applied to the vulnerable grooves and pits on the chewing surface of the back teeth (premolars and molars). The sealant acts as a barrier to food debris, plaque and bacteria protecting these cavity prone areas of the teeth. Avoidance of sticky or hard foods, which can “pull” at or “break” the sealants will help them last longer.

Regular Dental Visits

How often should a child see the dentist?
A dental check-up is recommended at least twice a year for most children. Some children need more visits due to increased risk of tooth decay, unusual growth patterns or poor oral care.

Why does my child have to go twice a year when they’ve never had a cavity?
Regular visits help your child stay cavity-free. Dental cleanings remove buildup on the teeth which may irritate the gums or cause decay. Fluoride treatments renew the fluoride content in the enamel, strengthening the teeth and preventing cavities.

We also provide ongoing assessment of changes in your child’s dental health which may include developing orthodontic problems.

What happens in a dental check-up?
First, we review your child’s medical and dental history. Next, we gently “count” your child’s teeth and examine the oral tissues and jaws. The teeth are cleaned and polished then given a fluoride bath.