Dental Care for Children

Protect your child's teeth with fluoride

Baby Teeth

  • Fluoride protects teeth from tooth decay and helps heal early decay.
  • Fluoride is in the drinking water of many towns and cities.
  • Ask your dentist or doctor if your water has fluoride in it. If it doesn't, talk to your dentist or doctor about giving you a prescription for fluoride drops for your baby.

Check and clean your child's teeth

  • Check your child's teeth. Healthy teeth should be all one color. If you see spots or stains on the teeth, take your baby to your dentist.
  • Clean your child's teeth as soon as they come in with a clean, soft cloth or a baby's toothbrush. Clean the teeth at least once a day. It's best to clean them right before bedtime.
  • At about age 2, most of your child's teeth will be in. Now you can start brushing them with a small drop of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Young children cannot get their teeth clean by themselves. Until they are 7 or 8 years old, you will need to help them brush. Try brushing their teeth first and then letting them finish. And be sure that you put the toothpaste on the brush--use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.

Feed your child healthy food

  • Choose foods that do not have a lot of sugar in them. Give your child fruits and vegetables instead of candy and cookies.

Prevent baby bottle tooth decay

  • Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle at night or at nap time. (If you put your baby to bed with a bottle, fill it only with water.)
  • Milk, formula, juices, and other sweet drinks such as soda all have sugar in them. Sucking on a bottle filled with liquids that have sugar in them can cause tooth decay. Decayed teeth can cause pain and can cost a lot to fill.
  • During the day, do not give your baby a bottle filled with sweet drinks to use like a pacifier.
  • If your baby uses a pacifier, do not dip it in anything sweet like sugar or honey.
  • Around the time your child turns 1 year old, you should teach him or her to drink from a cup instead of a bottle.

Take your child to the dentist

  • Ask your dentist when to bring your child in for his first visit. Usually, the dentist will want to see a child by his first birthday. At this first visit, your dentist can quickly check your child's teeth.


© 2010 Vivacare. Last updated May 12, 2011.

Reference: NIDCR

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Additional Resources

Losing Baby Teeth (link to AAP)
En Espanol
Una boca saludable para su bebe (link to NIH / NIDCR)
More Information
Fluoride (AAPD) (link to AAPD)
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