Whether he has a gummy grin or a mouthful of pearly whites, there’s nothing like seeing your child’s face break into a brilliant smile. Protect that look with proper dental care from day one.

Dental Care for Baby

Even before your baby has teeth, wipe down her gums with a soft, wet rag each day to clean bacteria from her mouth.

Around six to 12 months, your baby’s teeth will begin to break through the gums. Teething can be an uncomfortable process. Offering your baby your clean finger or a chilled washcloth to gum can help ease teething pain.

As soon one emerges, it’s time to start brushing teeth twice a day. Although you should purchase an infant toothbrush, you don’t have to stick with fluoride-free toothpaste. Fluoridated toothpaste is a good for little ones, as long as you keep the portion tiny.

Babies should also have their first dentist visit. Book the appointment as soon as she gets her first tooth, or at least have her seen within six months of that milestone.

The Toddler and Preschool Years

Continue to help toddlers and preschoolers brush their teeth with fluoridated toothpaste for two minutes at least twice a day. Teach toddlers to spit after brushing, and around three years old, increase from a dab of toothpaste that’s the size of a grain of rice to one that’s pea-sized.

Once your child’s teeth touch, it’s time to start flossing. Young children will need you to do this job for them.

If your child didn’t have her first dentist visit as an infant, it’s time now. From the first appointment on, dental checkups should become a regular habit. At an appointment, the dental staff can examine your child’s teeth, keep an eye out for any problems and perform preventive care, such as applying sealants to the back teeth.

Limiting sticky and sugary foods can help prevent cavities and tooth decay. This includes gummy snacks, fruit juices and even sweetened medicines. Consider these occasional treats rather than everyday foods, and have your child brush and rinse after consuming them.

A Healthy Mouth for School-Age and Beyond

Around the time that a child enters school is typically when she’ll begin losing baby teeth to make space for permanent ones. Loose teeth can be gently wiggled, but shouldn’t be yanked out. After losing a tooth, brush around the sensitive area with care.

During the school years, you can start teaching your child to take responsibility for his own oral health. Kids can learn proper procedures for brushing teeth and flossing. To prevent tooth decay, supervise the process until your child is old enough to do a thorough job on his own. Children are usually a minimum of 8 years old before they’re capable of oral health independence.

With healthy habits that start young, plus a helping hand from Mom or Dad, your youngster will be set for a lifetime of beautiful smiles.