Dental Care for Babies, Toddlers, Preschoolers, Children

Dental Care for Babies, Toddlers, Preschoolers and Children

Child Dental Health

Dental caries, also known as tooth decay, is the most common dental problem seen in children.

Tooth decay also known as a cavity or dental caries is a common dental problem among children worldwide. Tooth decay occurs when the acid formed by bacteria in the mouth causes the erosion of tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is the outermost layer of teeth which plays a key role in protecting the teeth from decay.

Dental Care for Babies

Dental care for babies is of utmost importance as it influences their oral health for life. Though babies do not have teeth when they are born, there is a complete set of 20 baby teeth hidden inside their gums waiting to erupt. 10 teeth in the upper jaw and 10 in the lower jaw.

Many parents do not give much attention to their child’s milk teeth as they will be replaced by permanent teeth in the long haul.

However, this is a misconception since milk teeth preserve space for the eruption of permanent teeth. If proper oral hygiene is not maintained, it can lead to gum disease called gingivitis and tooth decay which will ultimately affect the space required for eruption of permanent teeth.


Dental care for baby teeth should begin well before the first tooth erupts in the mouth. The baby's gums should be cleaned regularly. You can use a warm and wet washcloth or a piece of wet gauze wrapped around your finger and wipe gently. Follow this once a day when your baby’s last feed for the day is over.

Baby teeth are prone to dental caries as soon as they erupt; so when your baby’s first tooth erupts around 6-10 months, take wet gauze or soft infant toothbrush meant for children less than two years of age and this should be done mainly after the first and last feedings.

Dental Care for Toddlers

You can also maintain good oral hygiene and prevent baby tooth decay by avoiding giving your baby a bottle as a pacifier or having it in bed during the night. Also, bottle-feeding in bed can cause danger of choking, as babies who sleep while bottle-feeding risk taking liquid into their lungs.

If your baby uses a pacifier, do not dip it in sweet liquids like honey to prevent cavities.

Dental Care for Toddlers

Dental care should be a part of a toddler’s daily routine. Children should visit the dentist by their first birthday and regularly after that. Early visits to the dentist can help in identification of dental problems in the initial stages and also reduce the fear of dentist when the child grows older. It is recommended to take your child to a pedodontist who specializes in treating children’s dental health. Below are few tips you can follow for your child’s good dental health:

  • Encourage your child to brush teeth twice in a day i.e. in the morning and before going to bed.
  • Use a small toothbrush with a small amount of toothpaste, because children usually swallow the paste.
  • Replace the toothbrush every three months. Children often tend to bite the bristles; in such cases, you may need to replace it more frequently.
  • Introduce your child to healthy meals early so that they develop taste for these foods before they start eating sugar.
  • Don’t encourage your child to have sweet and sticky foods often such as candies, chocolates and sugary drinks, as they can cause tooth decay. Encourage them to brush their teeth each time they take in such foods.

Dental Care for Preschoolers

Below mentioned are a few dental care habits for pre-school children, to maintain a good oral hygiene

  • Make your child brush in the morning and before bedtime.
  • Encourage your child to rinse the mouth with water after eating meals and snacks, to eliminate the sticky foods attached to the surfaces of the teeth.
  • At this age, children will usually have an urge to brush teeth on their own; teach them the right brushing techniques, which is very important to maintain good oral health.
  • Teach your child the benefits of good oral hygiene.
  • Stop the habit of thumb sucking and avoid using a pacifier.
  • Encourage your child to drink plenty of water to maintain overall health and a constant flow of saliva in the mouth.
Dental Care for Preschoolers

Dental Care for School-going Children

Healthy teeth and gums are essential for your child’s overall health; therefore, it is important for school-going children to follow certain dental practices, such as:

  • Teach your child to begin flossing of teeth and encourage the kid to brush twice a day
  • Allow your child to use a small amount of toothpaste. Teach your child to spit out the toothpaste and rinse with water. Advise your kid not to swallow toothpaste
  • Give your child fresh fruits instead of fruit juices; fresh juices contain added sugar and can cause tooth decay
  • Avoid carbonated soft drinks because they are acidic and can damage the teeth
  • Avoid using sugary foods as rewards for good behavior
  • Encourage your child to eat a healthy diet including vegetables, grains, cereals, fruits, dairy, fish, eggs and lean meat
  • If any permanent tooth is damaged, it is advisable to consult your dentist
  • To minimize the risk of germs, rinse the toothbrush and allow it to air-dry after every use
  • Ensure that toothbrushes do not touch each other when stored together and avoid sharing toothbrushes. Also, make sure to store the brushes safely and keep them free from contact with insects
Dental Care for Children

Tips to Reduce Incidence of Caries

  • Brush and Floss your teeth everyday. Regular flossing will remove food particles and stop plaque formation that can lead to tooth decay.
  • Use your teeth only for chewing food and not for anything else like tearing of plastics or opening bottle corks
  • Have regular dental check-ups
  • Brush your teeth for two to three minutes each time

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