Smile! It’s National Children’s Dental Health Month. To instill a commitment to dental health, a dental routine should start early in your child’s life. We asked Dr. Erin Sheffield, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon with Quincy Medical Group, to give us some tips to get kids started on the right path with their teeth. Here’s what she shared.

  1. Once your child has a tooth, they should be brushing with fluoride toothpaste. Make sure they start with a very small amount, the size of a very slight smear or small grain of rice. As they get older, you can change to a pea-sized amount once they can spit the excess. If you are worried about fluoride, find a toothpaste with nano-hydroxyapatite.
  2. Parents should be checking or brushing their child’s teeth until they can demonstrate excellent hygiene on their own. This is usually not before age 8 or 9.
  3. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), your child’s first dental appointment should be by age 1. If your dentist isn’t willing to see them that young, consider a pediatric dentist or find someone else who will be willing to see them.
  4. Don’t over prepare your child for their dental visits. Speak about it in positive terms and let the dentist describe what they will be doing — something like, “We will be going to the dentist so they can count and clean your teeth,” should suffice.
  5. Get out of the bathroom and try brushing on the floor or on their bed with their head in your lap. This will give much better access and visibility. Early on it may feel like a wrestling match but soon they will learn to cooperate.
  6. Flossing is only necessary for teeth that are touching.

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