Best Dental Hygiene For Your Child, From Baby to Teenager

A smile is important at every age, but especially for children. The health of a child’s smile today can affect his or her oral health decades down the road.

Here are a few important things that your dentist wants you to know in regard to helping children of all ages have healthy teeth for life.


Pediatricians and pediatric dentists recommend scheduling your baby’s first dental visit by age 1, or when the first teeth erupt. Before your baby gets teeth, clean his or her gums with a soft damp washcloth after every feeding.

Once teeth start to erupt, use a small toothbrush to clean your child’s teeth with tap water or a rice-sized smear of fluoridated toothpaste (recent ADA recommendations have change from introducing fluoride toothpaste at a later age, to a much younger one).


Until your child can tie his or her own shoes, he or she needs your help brushing his or her teeth. While it’s fine to encourage independent tooth brushing, be sure to go back behind your child to get a “good” clean in at least twice daily.

Start to watch for teeth touching side-by-side. If they do, use a handheld floss pick to clean these areas, too.

School Age Children

By now, your child is likely brushing his or her own teeth and starting to learn how to floss. Adult molars will be erupting somewhere around the age of 6 (first set) and 12 (second set). Boys tend to get theirs around the same time or slightly later. When they do, talk to your dentist about getting protective sealants to prevent cavities before they start.


The day finally arrives when your child has a full set of permanent (adult) teeth. Encourage daily flossing, since these teeth will be with him or her for life.

During dental appointments, have your dentist evaluate your teen’s bite for possible orthodontic needs along with developing wisdom teeth. Because your teen’s oral anatomy is still developing, it’s the best time to intercept any orthognathic (skeletal) needs. By the time your teen reaches 18 or early-college age, his or her oral anatomy will be nearly completely formed.

Schedule a Dental Checkup Twice a Year

Be sure to take your child for a dental checkup and cleaning every six months. These regular visits allow your dentist to screen for common issues that can leave a lasting impact on your child’s smile. With great preventative care and oral hygiene starting at a young age, your child can enjoy a confident smile that lasts for years to come.

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About the Author

I am a family dentist who treats children as well as adults. Making smiles people love, extreme makeovers and complex dental reconstruction is our niche including implants, TMJ, orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry. As a participant in the blog, I will be offering dental perspectives on pediatric safety and health care options on a regular basis. I can be reached at Blessings to all! Dr Williams is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


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