Tips for a strong start
YOUR CHILD’S FIRST TEETH
Good oral health begins long before the first
From birth, you can be wiping your baby’s gums with a clean,
damp facecloth. Doing this every day, for example at bath time,
helps your baby get used to an oral care routine that becomes
increasingly important as your baby grows.
Melanie Garrison, a dental hygienist who has worked with
children for more than 20 years, warns that pooled milk or
formula in an infant’s mouth can increase the growth of bacteria
and cause tooth decay. “Dental problems are the leading reason
for children’s emergency surgeries,” Garrison says.
Keeping your child’s first set of teeth healthy has lifelong
implications. With preventive care, early teeth are less likely to
decay, break or need to be removed. Maintaining healthy baby
teeth helps with eating, speech development, self-image and the
positioning of permanent teeth.
“Children with less decay will be adults with fewer dental and
other health problems,” Garrison says.
1 Start routines early—wipe your
infant’s gums from day one; keep
oral hygiene routines throughout
2 Take charge of the toothbrush—
parents need to brush their children’s teeth from the appearance
of their first tooth to the age of seven or eight, when children can do
3 See a dental professional—a first
visit is recommended when your
child is one year old or six months
after his first tooth appears.
4 Set the example—children like to
copy the grown-ups in their lives;
they need to see you brushing and
flossing (and being brave during
5 Eat well—set the right path for
lifelong good health habits; avoid
sugary snack foods and drinks.
6 Play safe—wear proper, well-fitted safety gear and mouthguards
for all sports and activities to
avoid dental injuries (at any age).
7 Prevention is key—good oral
hygiene is less expensive than
repairs or surgeries; ensure your
child uses a fluoridated toothpaste. It’s the number one way to
8 Seek advice—ask a dentist or
dental hygienist before introducing fluoride toothpaste to children
under age three. If your child is
under three, he is at risk of tooth
decay and the use of a fluoride
toothpaste is recommended. The
amount of fluoride toothpaste
used only needs to be about the
size of a grain of rice.
9 Teach them well—for children
three years of age and older,
place only a pea-size amount of
fluoride toothpaste on their toothbrush. Supervise brushing to discourage swallowing toothpaste.
Teach your child to spit out all excess toothpaste after brushing.
An adult can set a good example for good oral health care habits at home.
That includes helping a child brush his teeth until he can do it on his own,
around the age of seven or eight.