skip over navigation links
Maternal and Child Health Bureau logoA Health Professionals Guide to Pediatric Oral Health Management
HomeModuleModule 1: An Introduction to Infants' and Young Children's Oral HealthModule 2: Managing Infants' and Young Children's Oral HealthModule 3: Oral Conditions and AbnormalitiesModule 4: Prevention of Oral DiseaseModule 5: Non-Nutritive Sucking HabitsModule 6: Oral InjuryModule 7: Infants and Young Children with Special Health Care NeedsContentsGlossaryEvaluationHelp
Module 2: Managing Infants' and Young Children's Oral Health
Module Contents
Overview
2.1 Oral Development

Tooth Eruption and Loss
Teething
Malocclusion
2.2 Interview and Risk Assessment

During & After Pregnancy
During Infancy
During Early Childhood
2.3 Oral Screening
2.4 Behavior Management
2.5 Oral Examination
2.6 Anticipatory Guidance

For Pregnant Women,
New Mothers, or Other Intimate Caregivers
For Parents of Infants

For Parents of
Young Children

(current page)
2.7 The Dental Home
Key Points
Post-Test
References
Additional Resources



2.6 Anticipatory Guidance, continued

Anticipatory Guidance to Share with Parents of Young Children

  • 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 teeth.

  • For infants and children under age 3, beginning as soon as the first tooth erupts, parents should brush the infant's or child's teeth twice daily using a soft toothbrush that is an appropriate size for the infant's or child's age. Parents should dispense a "smear" of fluoridated toothpaste on the bristles of the toothbrush.

  • For children ages 3 through 6, parents should brush the child's teeth or supervise brushing twice daily using a soft toothbrush that is an appropriate size for the child's age. Parents should dispense a "pea-size amount" of fluoridated toothpaste on the bristles of the toothbrush.

  • 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.

previous pagenext page

logo: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau