Children's teeth begin forming before birth. As early as 4 months, the first primary, or baby teeth, erupt through the gums. All 20 of the primary teeth usually appear by age 3, although their pace and order of eruption varies.
Oral Health for Children
To help ensure oral health and a lifetime of good oral care habits:
- Limit children's sugar intake
- Make sure children get enough fluoride, either through drinking water or supplement to diet
- Teach children how to brush
- Supervise brushing sessions, which can be a challenge for small hands
Major Obstacles to Children's Oral Health
- "Baby bottle tooth decay"
- Wipe gums with gauze or a clean washcloth and water after feeding. When teeth appear, brush daily with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste
- Put child to bed with a bottle of water, not milk or juice
- Thumb sucking
- Not a concern until about 4 years of age or when permanent teeth appear; after this time, it could cause dental changes
- White spots on teeth
- As soon as the first tooth appears (at about 6 months), begin cleaning the child's teeth daily and schedule a dental appointment
- Fear of the dentist
- Hold the child in the parent's lap during the exam
- Difficulty creating an oral care routine
- Involve the whole family – brush together at the same time each day to create a good habit
- Love of sweets
- Give children health snack options, like carrots and other fresh vegetables, plain yogurt, and cheese
- Stains from antibiotics
- Speak to the paediatrician before any medication is prescribed
- Make sure that teens brush well around braces, using a floss threader to remove all food particles
- Oral accidents from sports
- Encourage children to wear mouthguards during sports
The following are key preventive measures to preserve oral health through childhood:
Fluoride treatments to strengthen tooth enamel and resist decay. This may include fluoride supplements in areas where drinking water is not optimally fluoridated. Be sure to ask your dentist about supplements to determine if they are needed.
Dental sealants to provide a further layer of protection against cavities. Sealants are made of plastic and are bonded to the teeth by the dental team.
A fun oral care regimen to help encourage children to brush more regularly. Kid's Crest® Cavity Protection is a fluoride toothpaste with Sparkle Fun flavour just for kids. And the Oral B® Stages® Kids' Power Toothbrush makes brushing fun, with popular Disney characters and a patented oscillating Power head.