Children's Oral Health
Tooth decay (dental caries) affects children in the United States more than any other chronic infectious disease. Untreated tooth decay causes pain and infections that may lead to problems; such as eating, speaking, playing, and learning.
The good news is that tooth decay and other oral diseases that can affect children are preventable. The combination of dental sealants and fluoride has the potential to nearly eliminate tooth decay in school-age children.
What Parents and Caregivers Can Do
Here are some things you can do to ensure good oral health for your child:
- Encourage your children to eat regular nutritious meals and avoid frequent between-meal snacking.
- Protect your child's teeth with fluoride.
- Use a fluoride toothpaste. If your child is less than 7 years old, put only a pea-sized amount on their toothbrush.
- If your drinking water is not fluoridated, talk to a dentist or physician about the best way to protect your child's teeth.
- Talk to your child's dentist about dental sealants. They protect teeth from decay.
- If you are pregnant, get prenatal care and eat a healthy diet. The diet should include folic acid to prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord and possibly cleft lip/palate.
- Have your child brush and clean between their teeth twice a day. This is the best way to remove decay-causing material.
- Make sure that the size and shape of the brush head allows for a comfortable fit in your child's mouth and the tooth brush has easy reach to all areas. The brush should also fit comfortably in their hands so they can maneuver it easily.
- Replace toothbrushes if the bristles are frayed, your child has been ill, and/or after 3 months.
- Schedule routine dental appointments.