Tips for Tots' Teeth

Jan 30, 2013, 09:40 ET from Academy of General Dentistry

February Is National Children's Dental Health Month

CHICAGO, Jan. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 16 million children in the U.S. suffer from dental decay, and research shows that many parents lack basic information about their children's oral health. In fact, according to a survey of parents conducted by the Ad Council, fewer than half of children in the U.S. brush their teeth twice a day or more. In observance of National Children's Dental Health Month, the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) encourages parents to introduce good oral health habits to their children at an early age.

A child's first dental visit should occur six months after his or her first teeth erupt or by his or her first birthday. During this initial visit, the dentist will examine the development of the child's mouth.

"Childhood dental decay is largely preventable, and taking your child to see a dentist at an early age is the best way to prevent future oral health problems," AGD Spokesperson R. Claire Campbell, DMD, FAGD, mother of a 4-year-old child. "This will instill positive behaviors that will result in a lifetime of good oral health."

In addition to tooth decay, your dentist can provide insight about teething irritation, gum disease, and prolonged thumb or pacifier sucking. To further promote good oral health in children, parents can utilize these five tips:

  1. As soon as the first teeth come in, begin brushing them with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and water. Consult with your dentist before using toothpaste if your child is under age 2. Teeth should be brushed for 2 minutes, twice a day.
  2. Help tots floss their teeth. The earlier you introduce flossing, the more routine it becomes for the child.
  3. Avoid teeth misalignment by monitoring excessive sucking of pacifiers and fingers.
  4. Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juice, or sweetened liquids. Your child's teeth are more susceptible to cavities caused by the sugar in these liquids while they are asleep due to a decrease in salivary flow.
  5. Encourage children to drink tap or fountain water. If you live in an area where the public water supply is not fluoridated, consider asking your dentist for a prescription for a fluoride supplement or purchase water that is fluoridated.

"The best way to teach a child how to brush is to lead by good example," says Dr. Campbell. "Allow your child to watch you brush your teeth to teach the importance of good oral hygiene."

Children, like adults, should see the dentist every six months. For a young child, some dentists may schedule interim visits every three months to build the child's comfort and confidence levels or to perform necessary treatment.

For more tips to promote good oral health in children, visit or

About is the Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) source of consumer information on dental care and oral health. Its goal is to provide reliable information in a format that is easy to use and navigate, and to provide the tools that will help consumers of all ages to care for their teeth and with other aspects of oral care. answers important dental health questions, offers the latest information on current dental treatments and tips for first-rate oral hygiene, and can help visitors find qualified dentists near where they live or work.

About the Academy of General Dentistry
The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) is a professional association of more than 37,000 general dentists dedicated to providing quality dental care and oral health education to the public. AGD members stay up-to-date in their profession through a commitment to continuing education. Founded in 1952, the AGD is the second largest dental association in the United States, and it is the only association that exclusively represents the needs and interests of general dentists. A general dentist is the primary care provider for patients of all ages and is responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, management, and overall coordination of services related to patients' oral health needs. For more information about the AGD, visit The AGD is a member of the Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives, a first-of-its-kind national dental coalition composed of 35 leading dental health organizations. The Partnership's campaign is designed to educate parents and caregivers on how to improve their children's oral health in simple ways. The campaign offers families oral health resources through the website

SOURCE Academy of General Dentistry