Children’s Oral Health: The Basics

Cute Little Boy Demonstrates How to Brush His TeethTooth decay is a serious problem affecting approximately 4 million preschool aged children and as much as 50% of tweens and teens between the ages of 12 and 15. It even surpasses asthma and hay fever the most prevalent chronic childhood disease. Tooth decay and gum disease can lead to discomfort, lost teeth, poor concentration in school, and lost school hours and yet both of these oral health problems are preventable in children. Knowing the basics of caring for your child’s teeth and gums  – and partnering with a caring children’s dentist — will set the stage for a lifetime of healthy smiles and help your child become an active partner in his or her oral health.

Schedule Your Child’s Checkup Every Six Months

The American Dental Association recommends you schedule your child’s first dental appointment for shortly after their first birthday. Even though most little ones only have a couple of teeth showing at this point, these early dental visits help your child become familiar with the dentist’s office while also allowing your dentist to keep track of any developing issues.

Pediatric dentists have received special training in oral health issues affecting younger patients. In addition, pediatric dentists and their staff know how to make children feel comfortable and safe throughout their visit, so your child is sure to have positive early experiences with the dentist.

Take Care of Little Teeth at Home

Once your child’s first teeth erupt, you should start brushing them using a rice-sized dab of non-fluoridated toothpaste on a soft-bristled toothbrush. At around age 3, your child can graduate to fluoridated toothpaste (as long as he or she understands that toothpaste can’t be swallowed). School aged children should be encouraged to take over brushing and flossing (handheld flossers are great for little hands) and should follow ADA guidelines from brushing at least twice a day for two minutes.

Be Mindful of the Diet-Dental Health Connection

It should come as no surprise that what you or your child eats will impact your oral health, and that a diet high in sugar is directly linked to a higher risk for tooth decay. Children are at a particular disadvantage in this area because so many of the foods and drinks marketed to children or provided in daycare or school settings are laden with sugar. You can do your part to keep your child’s smile healthy by limiting the amount of sugary foods and drinks you have available in your home. Swap out low-sugar options for their high-sugar counterparts. For example, mozzarella string cheese sticks have no sugar and are just as high in calcium as kids’ sweetened yogurt cups.


At Lake Orion Family Dentistry, Dr. Brad Greenfield works to improve patients’ wellbeing, as well as their oral health, and he is proud to offer holistic, 100% metal-free dentistry. To learn more, or to schedule a dental appointment, call our office in Lake Orion, MI, today at 248-693-6213. We proudly welcome patients and families from around Lake Orion, MI, as well as Auburn Hills, Rochester Hills, Clarkston, Oxford, all surrounding communities.