Skip Navigation This page features a timed image rotator. If you would like to disable it, press enter now. Skip to Footer Links

    Creating a lifetime of smiles: Healthy hygiene habits

    A lifetime of good oral health starts during childhood.

    During Children’s Dental Health Month this February, we want to make sure you are setting your child up for a future filled with healthy smiles. Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases in the United States and can lead to many other problems. By establishing some key oral health habits early, your kid’s teeth can be cavity free — whether they’re three years old or thirty years old.

    0-6 Month: First visit from the tooth fairy
    Prior six months, your child’s mouth and gums should be wiped with a clean damp cloth or gauze to keep their mouths free of bad bacteria. When the time is right for their teeth to start emerging, be prepared with some teething tips: to soothe their gums gently rubbing their gums with a clean finger, a small cool spoon, or a moist gauze pad and to prevent teething rashes wipe away any excess dribble. Their brushing journey should begin at approximately six months or when their first tooth begins to pop through.

    6 Months to 2 Years: First trip to the dentist
    Your child's first visit to the dentist should be 6 months after the first tooth erupts, but no later than 12 months of age. There might not be much to examine, but baby teeth can have an impact on how a child’s permanent teeth come in. During these early visits, dentists are assessing your child’s bite, facial growth, and dental development. As your baby starts to eat soft foods, include healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables to build strong enamel and prevent cavities.

    2 to 6 Years: Tiny teeth deserve healthy habits
    Good adult oral health begins with good primary habits. Around age 2, parents should begin brushing a child’s teeth twice a day with a child-size toothbrush and a small amount of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) once they appear until age 3. When your child learns to spit toothpaste out, you can increase to a small pea-sized amount from ages 3 to 6. Along with helping your child develop good dental practices, food and drink can play an important role at this age. Avoid sweets and limit juice intake to 6 oz. per day and try diluting it with water.

    6 to 12 Years: Bye-bye baby teeth
    As soon as your child’s teeth begin to touch, it’s time to floss! Around age 6, children will reach a big milestone of losing their baby teeth. They should continue brushing their teeth twice a day while being gentle in areas with lost teeth. Mastering good tooth brushing techniques ensures that plaque (a sticky mixture of bacteria, food, and debris) is removed - preventing tooth decay and gum disease. Not all baby teeth fall out at once and it typically takes until age 12 for all adult teeth to come in.

    Teaching your child to prioritize their oral health will set them up for life with a sparkling smile, clean teeth, and overall healthy well-being. These tips can help reduce plaque build-up, prevent cavities, and minimize risk for other medical issues.