- If the child has not yet been to a dentist,
make an appointment for the child’s first
dental visit, thereby establishing a dental home.
- After the initial dental visit, make the next appointment
for the child according to the schedule recommended
by the dentist, based on the child’s individual
needs or susceptibility to disease.
- For children with special health care needs, make
appointments for more frequent dental visits based
on the child’s individual needs or susceptibility
to disease. Obtain special oral health equipment
(e.g., a mouth prop) to brush the child’s
- For children under age 2, brush the teeth with
a smear of fluoridated toothpaste twice a day (after breakfast and before
- For children ages 2 and above, brush the teeth
with a pea-sized amount
of fluoridated toothpaste twice a day (after breakfast
and before bed). Make sure the child spits out
the toothpaste after brushing but does not rinse
with water. The small amount of fluoridated toothpaste
that remains in the mouth helps prevent tooth decay.
- For effective plaque removal, make sure that a
parent brushes the child’s teeth. Because
brushing requires good fine motor control, young
children cannot clean their teeth without parental
help. After children acquire fine motor skills
(e.g., the ability to tie their shoelaces), typically
by age 7 or 8, they can clean their teeth effectively
but should be supervised by a parent.
- Become familiar with the normal appearance of your
child’s gums and teeth so that problems can
be identified if they occur. Check the child’s
gums and teeth about once a month.
- Give the child fluoride supplements only as prescribed
by a dentist or physician, based on the risk of
developing tooth decay and the known level of fluoride
in the child’s drinking water.
- Discuss with a dentist or other qualified health
professional the need to apply fluoride topically
(via varnishes, gels, foams), which renews the
high levels of fluoride in the outer layer of the
tooth enamel. Topical fluoride may be especially
effective for children at high risk for tooth decay
because they have a history of decay, are not exposed
to fluoridated water, snack frequently on foods
containing sugar, or have a medical problem that
decreases their resistance to decay.
- If the child has sore gums caused by tooth eruption,
give the child a clean teething ring, cool spoon,
or cold wet washcloth. Other options include giving
the child a chilled teething ring or simply rubbing
the child’s gums with a clean finger.