Bright Futures Oral Health Pocket Guide

Early Childhood • 1 – 4 Years

image of boy brushing teeth

Health professionals should select the information in this section that is most appropriate, using clinical judgment to decide what is timely and relevant for each individual child and family.

Family Preparation

To help prepare families for oral health supervision visits, health professionals can provide parents with a list of topics to discuss at the next visit. Topics may include the following:

Interview Questions

Following are examples of questions that health professionals may use. In addition to asking these or other interview questions, discuss any issues or concerns the family has.

Risk Assessment

Use the risk assessment tables and caries risk assessment tools to assess the child's risk factors for oral health issues.


Visually inspect the lips, tongue, teeth, gums, inside of the cheeks, and roof of the mouth.


The first oral examination should occur within 6 months of the eruption of the first primary tooth, and no later than age 12 months. Thereafter the child should be seen according to a schedule recommended by the dentist, based on the child's individual needs and risk for developing oral diseases.

Anticipatory Guidance

Discuss with Parents:

Oral Health Care

Oral Hygiene


Nonnutritive Sucking

Injury Prevention

Substance Use