Preventative care is vital to your child’s dental health. Good oral hygiene should be a pattern established as soon as your child has erupted their first tooth. Daily brushing at least twice a day is important to remove plaque and bacteria from the teeth. Use a light coating of toothpaste (fluoride-free) for infants and a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste for children old enough to not swallow toothpaste. Flossing is an important part of good oral hygiene to introduce early on. When any two teeth touch is the right time to start flossing. Floss removes plaque the toothbrush cannot reach. You should brush and floss your teeth for them until the child is 4 or 5 and able to do it on their own. Remember, even when children can brush on their own, it will be important for you to supervise to ensure they are doing a thorough job.
You can help your child prevent cavities by providing a healthy diet. Provide your child with a balanced diet and keep an eye on how frequently they eat foods containing starch or sugar. Many foods contain some variety of sugar, all of which can promote tooth decay. Starches such as crackers, pasta, and bread can also advance dental decay. The more frequently a child snacks and how long the food remains in their mouth can play a role in tooth decay. Try to limit the amount of snacking your child does, and when they do snack, help them make nutritious choices such as vegetables or cheese. Save foods with higher starch and sugars for mealtimes.
Routine visits to your family dentist play another important role in preventative care. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests visiting your dentist every six months, starting at age 1. Regular visits are important to prevent problems and also to treat areas of concern before the problem becomes too complex, painful, or expensive. The earlier a problem is detected and treated, the more comfortable your child will be.