Atkins & Anderson DDS Blog

At what age should dental care start for my child? How can I keep my toddler’s teeth healthy? When should I schedule the first checkup?

These are just a few of the questions parents have about their child’s dental care. You know you want to prevent cavities, but what’s the best way?

Here are some tips and guidelines to help you keep your child’s teeth healthy from birth:

Birth to First Tooth

Did you know infants are born with their entire set of 20 primary teeth already below the gum line? That’s why it’s important to think about dental care before the first tooth even comes in.

Gently wipe your baby’s gums with a clean damp washcloth or gauze pad after every feeding. Finish bottle feedings before putting your baby down to sleep.

Avoid putting pacifiers or feeding spoons in your mouth because you can pass cavity-causing germs to your baby. Instead, rinse pacifiers with water to clean them.

1st Tooth to 12 Months

The first tooth usually emerges when a baby is 6-8 months old. After the first tooth appears, lightly brush your baby’s teeth and gums with a soft-bristled toothbrush but no toothpaste. At this stage, you should schedule the first dental appointment. The AAPD recommends seeing a dentist by your baby’s first birthday.

12 to 24 Months

Continue brushing your child’s teeth twice daily with plain water only. Make a dentist appointment if you notice any irregular brown or white spots, which can indicate tooth decay.

2 – 8 Years

Around the age of 2 years, begin brushing your child’s teeth twice daily using a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Teach your child to spit out all the toothpaste after brushing and not to swallow it.

Toddlers will need help brushing their teeth, but you can let them hold the toothbrush and try brushing them first. After they’ve had a turn, you can finish and make sure their teeth are brushed properly. Once your child has two teeth that touch, you should floss them daily.

Regular checkups every 6 months will help prevent cavities and other dental problems.

You’ll need to help your child until you’re confident they can clean their teeth properly by themselves. Every child is different, but most need supervision until ages 8-10.

What’s the best way to brush your child’s teeth?

1. Stand or sit behind your child so they feel secure. Brush teeth in front of a mirror so they can watch and learn – and you can see inside their mouth.

2. Angle the toothbrush bristles towards the gum. If you’re using an electric toothbrush, move the brush gently across the teeth. Move the brush in gentle circles if you’re using a manual toothbrush.

3. Brush the inner and outer sides of the teeth, the chewing surfaces, and the gum line.

4. Gently brush your child’s tongue.

5. After brushing for 2 minutes, encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste, not swallow it. There’s no need to rinse with water after brushing because the fluoride toothpaste left behind helps protect your child’s teeth.

Looking Ahead

As your kids grow and their permanent teeth come in, plan on routine dental checkups every 6 months. Limit sugary foods and encourage proper brushing and flossing to keep your child’s teeth healthy. When added to regular dental visits and a balanced diet, these home treatments will help give your child a lifetime of healthy dental habits. To schedule an appointment, contact Atkins & Anderson DDS today.


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