By now your child has been seeing a dentist regularly for
years. Continue with your usual schedule. If for some reason your child has not
yet seen a dentist, make an appointment for an exam.
more of the responsibility for good dental habits belongs to your child
What your child can do
Your child should be brushing his or her own
teeth morning and night with a soft toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of
fluoridated toothpaste. Watch to be sure he or she is
doing a good job brushing.
Flossing is an important part of good
dental health, but it can be a challenging task for a child to master. Talk
with your dentist about the right technique to teach your child how to floss.
Plastic flossing tools may help you and your child.
If your child
has cavities, your dentist may recommend the use of a mouthwash that contains
fluoride. But teach your child not to swallow it,
because fluoride can be toxic in large amounts.
disclosing tablets from time to time to see whether
any plaque is left on your child's teeth after brushing. Disclosing tablets are
chewable and will color any plaque left on the teeth after the child brushes.
You can buy these at most drugstores.
What you and your dentist can do
After your child's
permanent teeth begin to appear, talk with your
dentist about having dental sealant placed on the molars.
Sealants are made of hard plastic and protect the
chewing surfaces of the back teeth from
Discuss your child's
fluoride needs with your dentist if your local water
supply does not contain enough fluoride. To find out, call your local water
company or health department. If you have your own well, have your water
checked to determine whether your family needs fluoride from other sources. Normal amounts of fluoride added to public water supplies and bottled water are safe for children and adults. If your child needs extra fluoride, your dentist may recommend supplements. Use these supplements only as directed. And keep them out of reach of your child. Too much fluoride can be toxic and can stain a child's teeth.
Good nutrition is important for building and
maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Give your child nutritious foods to
maintain healthy gums, develop strong teeth, and avoid tooth decay. These
include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Try to avoid foods that are high
in sugar and processed carbohydrates, such as pastries, pasta, and white bread.
your child away from cigarette smoke (secondhand smoke). Tobacco smoke may
contribute to the development of tooth decay and gum disease.1 Teach your child about the dangers of smoking and secondhand
Children play hard, sometimes hard enough to knock out or
break a tooth. Learn how to prevent injuries to teeth and what to do in a
dental emergency. For more information, see the topic Mouth and Dental
American Dental Association (2009). ADA policy on cigarettes and other tobacco products. Available online: http://www.ada.org/news/929.aspx.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.