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Entries in brushing teeth (1)


To Do: Brush those pearly whites!

There are always tons of questions about teeth at well visits. When do we start brushing? Do we use toothpaste? When should we see a dentist? We definitely like to see healthy teeth as well as healthy bodies, which is why it’s important to be knowledgeable about dental health for your child.

Teeth usually start to come in during the latter half of the first year, which is when it’s time to start taking care of them. It’s hard to believe, but those teeth will set the stage for the mouthful of adult teeth that will come later! Tooth decay can start as soon as the first tooth pops through and is a huge problem in toddlers and preschoolers due to decreased brushing, increased intake of sugary drinks and foods, and prolonged bottle use.

What can you do to help prevent tooth decay in your child?

  • Start by brushing as soon as you see that first tooth! You can either use a washcloth, finger toothbrush, or soft bristled toothbrush to start. Brush twice daily and always help your child – though they may have the brushing motion down, they may not be thoroughly cleaning their teeth!
  • Avoid fluoride toothpaste to start, as young babies will swallow the toothpaste rather than spitting. Instead, use water or baby-formulated toothpaste. You can start using fluoride when you feel like your child is able to spit reliably.
  • After 12 months, switch to all sippy cups as soon as possible. Bottles increase the risk of cavities, especially if children go to bed with a bottle!
  • Offer water and milk; limit juice intake to once daily
  • Avoid excess intake of candies, fruit snacks, fruit roll ups, etc. (sticky, sugary snacks that can get stuck on teeth)
  • Talk to your dentist about when to start flossing your child's teeth
  • Schedule regular well child checks with your child’s doctor as well as regular visits with the dentist

A very common question is when to see a dentist – I would suggest sometime between years 1 and 2 (definitely by age 2). Check with your doctor for dentist recommendations if you need them. Many family dentists will see children at young ages, but if not, a pediatric dentist is also an option.    

Further questions about your child’s teeth? Check out these articles from the AAP for more info! I especially love this article about ideas to help make brushing fun...