Keeping Your Child's Teeth Healthyenparentshttps://kidshealth.org/EN/images/headers/P-teenHealthy-enHD-AR1.jpgHere are the basics about how to care for your child's teeth - and when.orthodontia, orthodontics, braces, headgear, rubber bands, brackets, molars, canines, bicuspids, brushing my child's teeth, flossing my child's teeth, fluoride, preventing cavities, fillings, drilling, dentists, pediatric dentists, toothpastes, mouths, jaws, sugars, tooth decay, gum diseases, gumline, toothpick, baby teeth, tooth fairy, loose tooth, loose teeth, dental caries, breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, general pediatrics, dentistry, dental, CD1Dental Care03/22/200012/05/201912/05/2019Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD06/01/2018ee269f09-e62c-4f49-b81f-fdc0631485f1https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/healthy.html/<p>When should I schedule my child's first trip to the dentist? Should my 3-year-old be flossing? How do I know if my child needs braces?</p> <p>Many parents have a tough time judging how much dental care their kids need. They know they want to prevent cavities, but they don't always know the best way to do so. Here are some tips and guidelines.</p> <div class="rs_skip rs_preserve"><!-- TinyMCE Fix --> <script src="//familysurvey.org/misc/javascript/js_apps/video/kh-video-metadata.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script src="//familysurvey.org/misc/javascript/js_apps/video/kh-video-controller.js" type="text/javascript"></script> <script src="//familysurvey.org/misc/javascript/js_apps/video/single-well-child-teeth-en.js" type="text/javascript"></script> </div> <h3>When Should Kids Start Brushing Their Teeth?</h3> <p>Good dental care begins <em>before</em> a baby's first tooth appears. Just because you can't see the teeth doesn't mean they aren't there. Teeth actually begin to form in the second trimester of pregnancy. At birth, your baby has 20 primary teeth, some of which are fully developed in the jaw.</p> <p>Here's when and how to care for those little choppers:</p> <ul class="kh_longline_list"> <li>Even before your baby starts teething, run a clean, damp washcloth over the gums to clear away harmful <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/germs.html/">bacteria</a>.</li> <li>When your baby gets teeth, brush them with an infant toothbrush. Use water and a tiny bit of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice). Use fluoride toothpaste that carries the American Dental Association's (ADA) seal of acceptance. (If you are using baby toothpaste without the fluoride, keep it to the same amount because you still want to minimize any toothpaste that is swallowed.)</li> <li>When two of your baby's teeth touch, you can begin flossing between them.</li> <li>Around age 2, your child should learn to spit while brushing. Avoid giving your child water to swish and spit because this can make swallowing toothpaste more likely.</li> <li>Kids ages 3 and up should use only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.</li> <li>Always supervise kids younger than 8 while brushing, as they're likely to swallow toothpaste.</li> </ul> <p>Even babies can get tooth decay. Putting a baby to sleep with a bottle can harm a baby's teeth. Sugars from juice, formula, or milk that stay on a baby's teeth for hours can eat away at the enamel (the layer of the tooth that protects against tooth decay). This can lead to "bottle mouth" or "baby bottle tooth decay." When this happens, the front teeth can get discolored, pocked, and pitted. Cavities might form and, in severe cases, the decayed teeth might need to be pulled.</p> <p>When kids are 6 months old, they can switch from a bottle to a <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/no-bottles.html/">sippy cup</a> (with a straw or hard spout). This helps prevent liquid from pooling around a child's teeth. By their first birthday, they'll have the <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/move812m.html/">motor skills and coordination</a> to use the cup on their own.</p> <h3>When Should Kids See a Dentist?</h3> <p>The ADA recommends that children see a&nbsp;dentist by their first birthday. At this first visit, the dentist will explain proper brushing and flossing techniques and do a modified exam while your baby sits on your lap.</p> <p>These visits can help find problems early and help kids get used to visiting the dentist so they'll have less fear about going as they get older. Consider taking your child to a dentist who specializes in treating kids. Pediatric dentists are trained to handle the wide range of issues associated with kids' dental health. They also know when to refer you to a different type of specialist, such as an orthodontist to correct an overbite or an oral surgeon for jaw realignment.</p> <p>If a child seems to be at risk for cavities or other problems, the dentist may start applying topical fluoride even before all teeth come in (this also can be done in the pediatrician's office). Fluoride hardens the tooth enamel, helping to ward off the most common childhood oral disease &mdash; dental cavities (also called dental caries).</p> <h3>How Can We Prevent Cavities?</h3> <p><strong>Cavities</strong> happen when bacteria and food left on the teeth after eating are not brushed away. Acid collects on a tooth, softening its enamel until a hole &mdash; or cavity &mdash; forms.</p> <p><img class="center" title="Inside a healthy tooth and inside of one with a dental cavity" src="https://kidshealth.org/EN/images/illustrations/dentalCavity-415x233-rd4-enIL.png" alt="Inside a healthy tooth and inside of one with a dental cavity" /></p> <p></p> <p>Here's how to keep cavities away:</p> <ul class="kh_longline_list"> <li><strong>Start good oral habits early.</strong> Teach kids to brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and to floss regularly.</li> <li><strong>Get enough <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/fluoride-water.html/">fluoride</a>.</strong> Regular use of fluoride toughens the enamel, making it harder for acid to penetrate. Although many towns require tap water to be fluoridated, others don't. If your water supply is not fluoridated or if your family uses purified water, ask your dentist for fluoride supplements. Most toothpastes contain fluoride but toothpaste alone will not fully protect a child's teeth. Be careful, however, since too much fluoride can cause tooth discoloration. Check with your dentist before supplementing.</li> <li><strong>Limit or avoid some foods.</strong> Sugary foods, juices, candy (especially sticky gummy candy, gummy vitamins, or fruit leather or "roll-ups") can erode enamel and cause cavities. If your kids eat these foods, have them rinse their mouth or brush their teeth after eating to wash away the sugar. The same goes for taking sweetened liquid medicines: always have kids rinse or brush afterward.</li> </ul> <p>As your child's permanent teeth grow in, the dentist can help prevent decay by applying a thin wash of resin (called a sealant) to the back teeth, where most chewing is done. This protective coating keeps bacteria from settling in the hard-to-reach crevices of the molars. But make sure that kids know that sealants aren't a replacement for good brushing and regular flossing.</p> <h3>What Dental Problems Can Happen?</h3> <p>If you are prone to tooth decay or gum disease, your kids might be at higher risk as well. So sometimes even the best brushing and flossing habits can't prevent a cavity. Be sure to call your dentist if your child complains of tooth pain, which could be a sign of a cavity that needs treatment.</p> <p>New materials mean pediatric dentists have more filling and repair options than ever. A silver-colored material called amalgam (a special mix of metals) was once the substance of choice for most fillings in permanent teeth. But now,&nbsp;other materials like composite resins are becoming popular. Resins bond to the teeth so the filling won't pop out, and also can be used to rebuild teeth damaged through injury or conditions like a <a class="kh_anchor">cleft palate</a>. Because resins are often tooth-colored, they're considered more attractive.</p> <p>But in cases of fracture, extensive decay, or malformation of baby teeth, dentists often opt for stainless steel or ceramic crowns. Crowns maintain the tooth while preventing the decay from spreading.</p> <p>In some rare instances, usually when a more complicated dental procedure is to be done, a dentist will recommend using general <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/anesthesia-types.html/">anesthesia</a>. Parents should make sure that the professional who gives the medicine is a trained anesthesiologist or oral surgeon before agreeing to the procedure. Don't be afraid ask your dentist questions.</p> <p>Regular checkups and good dental hygiene can help prevent the need for this kind of extensive dental work. Also, encourage your kids to use a mouthguard during sports, which can prevent serious dental injuries.</p> <h3>What Is Orthodontia?</h3> <p>As kids get older, their bite and the straightness of their teeth can become an issue. Orthodontic treatment begins earlier now than it used to, and <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/braces.html/">braces</a> have changed too. The embarrassing old gear &mdash; a mouth filled with metal wires and braces &mdash; is in the past. Kids as young as age 7 now wear corrective appliances, and plastic-based (sometimes clear) materials have replaced metal.</p> <p>Orthodontists know that manipulation of teeth at a younger age can be easier and more effective in the long run. Younger children's teeth can be positioned with fairly minor orthodontic devices, preventing major treatment later on.</p> <h3>Looking Ahead</h3> <p>As kids grow, plan on routine dental checkups anywhere from once every 3 months to once a year, depending on your dentist's recommendations. Keeping sugary foods in check, encouraging regular brushing and flossing, and working with your dentist will lead good dental health.</p>Mantener sana la dentadura de su hijoMuchos padres lo pasan mal cuando intentan saber cuánto cuidado dental necesitan recibir sus hijos. Saben que quieren prevenir las caries, pero no siempre saben cómo hacerlo. He aquí algunos consejos y recomendaciones.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/es/parents/healthy-esp.html/2cdec9ed-54e3-498f-8ac3-6de7f27324ba
All About OrthodontiaJust getting braces and have no idea what to expect? Had braces for a while but wonder what's going on in there? Whatever your situation is, you're not alone: millions of teens have braces.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/braces.html/f4271221-7aac-42a1-a007-b2b2773eb39d
BracesBraces are a fact of life for many kids. Find out how they work and how to take care of them.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/kids/braces.html/1836ea53-44a2-4ae5-bda4-d540ead88e8f
Bruxism (Teeth Grinding or Clenching)Gnashing and grinding teeth, called bruxism, is common in kids, and often happens during deep sleep or while a child is under stress.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/bruxism.html/85cb1317-056f-49e7-a2d5-558422cef3f6
Caring for Your Child's Teeth (Video)Good oral health starts even before your child's first tooth comes in. Learn how to instill good habits that will last a lifetime.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/caringforteeth-video.html/f8ff087a-52eb-4ff4-98e0-b43e20478aa5
First Aid: Teeth InjuriesIf your child loses a baby tooth, there's no need to replace it. But if a permanent tooth is dislodged, it's a dental emergency. Here's what to do.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/tooth-sheet.html/2b52aa0b-27fe-4454-81d6-4c0dedd8e32d
Fluoride and WaterKeeping kids' teeth healthy requires more than just daily brushing. Learn about fluoride, a substance found naturally in water that plays an important role in healthy teeth.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/fluoride-water.html/ee5ef57f-be82-4c51-9c8c-8e81b80444f3
Going to the DentistWhat happens when you go to the dentist? Find out in this article for kids.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/kids/go-dentist.html/1038d5db-5893-42b9-8cfa-61f1959c889b
Going to the OrthodontistAn orthodontist prevents and treats mouth, teeth, and jaw problems using braces, retainers, and other devices.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/kids/orthodontist.html/4f134348-f397-43e7-b38e-230ea49952f7
Gum DiseaseGum disease doesn't just happen to people your grandparents' age - it can happen to teens too. Get the details here.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/gum-disease.html/74cf7201-de04-4789-9baf-9334fc7d57d8
Mouth and TeethDid you know that your mouth is the first step in the body's digestive process? Or that the mouth and teeth are essential for speech? Learn about the many roles your mouth and teeth play.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/mouth-teeth.html/5a8e1bcb-2da9-4821-8214-788f464d2742
Movie: TeethChloe and the Nurb sing about teeth and all they do for you - talking and eating, just to name a few!https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/kids/teeth-movie.html/032395ac-8006-4336-893b-3c4c54c10d8c
Taking Care of Your TeethThere's a lot more to taking care of your teeth than breath mints and mouth sprays. Read this article to learn the facts on flossing, how to give plaque the brush-off, and much more.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/teeth.html/c52995e7-4d13-44bf-9330-ec4d7ffd725c
The Basics of BracesDoes your child need braces? Find out when braces are necessary, what's involved in caring for them, and how to find low-cost orthodontic care in your area.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/braces.html/e12ba1dc-2f9d-472d-bde3-cf452b78d2a8
The Reality of RetainersRetainers are really common. In fact, most kids have to wear a retainer for at least a little while after getting their braces taken off. Find out more.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/kids/retainers.html/fb02af82-37fa-4f4c-b221-00b1020f6c1e
What Are Impacted Wisdom Teeth?Find out what the experts have to say.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/impacted-teeth.html/ea002374-3bdb-4cc6-8b62-16339812b90b
What's a Cavity?Cavities are small holes in your teeth that need to be filled. Find out what causes tooth decay and how dentists handle it.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/kids/cavity.html/9e228808-986e-4a54-bf6c-ca39ee6c513c
Your TeethThere's much more to a tooth than meets the eye. This article for kids gives you the inside story.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/kids/teeth.html/1081a110-2ede-48de-82c3-82da8da954e5
kh:age-allAgesOrAgeAgnostickh:clinicalDesignation-dentistrykh:genre-articlekh:primaryClinicalDesignation-dentistryYour Kid's Teethhttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/general/teeth/7ca795e5-ffc7-4288-ad2d-e1e49eab4040https://kidshealth.org/EN/images/illustrations/dentalCavity-415x233-rd4-enIL.png