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Children’s Oral Care: Do’s and Don’ts

Sarah Kotlan

Jul 23, 2018

A child learns from watching and mimicking, meaning if you take the time to show them how you brush and floss they will want to do it too. It is important to develop healthy and consistent oral care habits to maintain a healthy smile. Here is our list of do’s and don’ts for your child when taking care of his or her pearly whites.


Do bring your child in when his or her first tooth emerges

As soon as you see your child’s first tooth, which is typically between 6 months to 1 year of age, it’s time to schedule his or her first dental appointment. During this visit, the dentist will evaluate your child’s oral health and give you recommendations for at-home care and anticipatory guidelines.


Do make your child’s first dental appointment an enjoyable experience

Many people develop a fear of the dentist due to a poor first experience. It is so important to set the stage for positive associations with the dentist that will last a lifetime. Positive language about the dentist and reading books showing your child what to expect can all be helpful tools.


Do use fluoride toothpaste

You want your child to grow up strong and healthy, so don’t forget about his or her teeth. Use fluoride toothpaste to prevent tooth decay and strengthen tooth enamel. Fluoride free toothpaste, like training toothpaste, isn’t necessary or recommended any longer. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children under age three use a smear of fluoride toothpaste equaling about the size of a grain of rice. Children over age three who can spit would use the size of a pea.


Do monitor your child while they brush and floss

When a child is first introduced to oral care, they will need guidance on how to do it properly. Be sure they know how to hold the brush, how long to brush for, and the correct way to floss. After teaching your child these steps, keep an eye them to make sure they’re doing it correctly. Practice makes progress.


Don’t forget to remind your child to brush and floss after eating and drinking

It can be easy to forget to brush and floss after eating or drinking when his or her routine is altered, like a late-night snack or sleep over. Stay as consistent as possible by reminding your child to grab his or her tooth brush before leaving to a friend’s house.


Don’t use scary scenarios to motivate your child to brush and floss

Some parents may use scare tactics to get their kids to brush and floss often. They have even resorted to saying things like “If you don’t brush your teeth, they’ll all fall out,” or “We will just have the dentist pull them all out if you don’t brush.” These methods are ineffective and develop an unnecessary fear of the dentist that can last a lifetime. Instead, use positive reinforcements and make oral care fun. It is important to develop routines and habits with brushing and flossing while a child is young.