Dental care - child
Proper care of your child's teeth and gums includes brushing and rinsing, routine dental exams, and any necessary treatments such as fluoride, extractions, fillings, or braces and other orthodontics.
See also: Dental care - adult
Healthy teeth and gums are essential to your child's overall good health. Injured, diseased, or poorly developed teeth can result in poor nutrition, painful and dangerous infections, and problems with speech development and self-image.
CARING FOR AN INFANT'S TEETH
Even though newborns and infants do not have teeth, it is important to take care of their mouth and gums. Follow these tips:
- Use a damp washcloth to wipe your infant's gums after each meal.
- Do NOT put your infant or young child to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, or sugar water. Use only water for bedtime bottles.
- Begin using a soft toothbrush instead of a washcloth to clean your child's teeth as soon as his first tooth shows (usually between 5 - 8 months of age).
- Ask your pediatrician if your infant needs fluoride added to his diet.
THE FIRST TRIP TO THE DENTIST
- Your child's first visit to the dentist should be between the time the first tooth appears (5 - 8 months) and the time when all the primary teeth are visible (before 2 1/2 years).
- Many dentists recommend a "trial" visit to expose the child to the sights, sounds, smells, and feel of the office before the actual examination.
- Children who are accustomed to having their gums wiped and teeth brushed every day will be more comfortable going to the dentist.
CARING FOR A CHILD'S TEETH
- The child's teeth and gums should be brushed at least twice each day and especially before bed. Electric tooth brushes clean teeth better than manual ones.
- Take your child to a dentist every 6 months. Let the dentist know if your child thumb sucks or breathes through the mouth.
- Teach your child how to play safe and what to do if a tooth is broken or knocked out.
- When your child gets permanent teeth, he or she should begin flossing each evening before bed.
- When the child reaches the teens, braces or extractions may be needed to prevent long-term problems.
If your child loses an adult (permanent) tooth during a fall or other injury, see broken or knocked out tooth for first aid instructions. If you act quickly, you can often save the tooth.
Teach children to brush
Douglass JM. A practical guide to infant oral health. Am Fam Physician. 2004;70:2113-2120.
Hale KJ; American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Pediatric Dentistry. Oral health risk assessment timing and establishment of the dental home. Pediatrics. 2003;111:1113-1116.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. ©1997-2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Hotter Temperatures Linked To Kidney Stones
- 2. Summer Bug Bites: What to Look For
- 3. Skin Health Advice with Dr. Kenneth Beer
- 4. Summer Safety Tips That Every Parent Needs To Know
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.