It’s never too early for good dental care. With proper oral health care, your child can grow up cavity-free. Start by caring for your baby’s teeth. As he or she grows, teach your child the best possible tooth care. Don’t forget that healthy teeth and gums require regular visits to the dentist.
Food and bacteria form a sticky substance called plaque on teeth. Bacteria in the plaque make acid that eats away the tooth’s enamel (hard coating). This causes tooth decay. Brushing keeps plaque from forming.
Begin cleaning your baby’s teeth and gums as soon as the first tooth appears. At first, use water and a piece of cotton gauze. As more teeth come in, use a small toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. When the child is old enough to brush on his or her own, watch to be sure it’s done right.
Flossing removes bacteria and plaque from between the teeth and under the gums. Floss your child’s teeth daily. When the child is old enough, a floss holder can help him or her floss.
Fluoride makes tooth enamel stronger. This helps prevent cavities. Find out if your community’s water has fluoride added to it. If not, ask your dentist whether your child should be given fluoride supplements. Your dentist may also apply fluoride to your child’s adult teeth at regular checkups.
Sealants are a safe, painless and low-cost way to help protect your child’s back teeth from decay. A thin plastic coating is bonded to the chewing surfaces of the molars and premolars. The sealant forms a hard shield that keeps food and bacteria from getting into the tiny grooves on the surface of the teeth.