Eating a healthy diet is important for you and for your unborn child. A baby's teeth begin to form in the second month of pregnancy. By eating a healthy, balanced diet, you can help your baby develop healthy teeth. This includes getting the right amounts of protein, vitamins A, C and D, and minerals like calcium and phosphorous. If you don't get enough of these nutrients, your child's tooth enamel may not form normally. This may make your child more likely to develop cavities later in life.
A mother's decay-causing bacteria can be passed to her child, so it is important to make sure your mouth is healthy before your child is born
Brush and floss your child's teeth until he or she is at least six years old. By age six or seven, children should be able to brush their own teeth while you watch. When first teaching your child how to brush, you may wish to stand behind him or her and hold the brush. This can help your child learn the right way to brush.
By around age 10 or 11, most children should be able to brush their teeth without supervision. If you're not sure if your child is ready, ask your dentist for advice. Keep in mind that each child is different, and they are ready for different habits at different ages.
Here are some tips for proper brushing:
Flossing is not easy for children to do by themselves. The ADA recommends that you floss your child's teeth until he or she can do it alone, around age 10 or 11. When your child is ready to floss, with your supervision, show him or her how to hold the floss and gently clean between the teeth.
Here are some tips for proper flossing. Your dentist and hygienist can also show you and your child how to floss. Don't forget to floss once a day!
Fluoride is a mineral that is very effective in protecting teeth from decay. When a child's teeth are still forming, fluoride works by making tooth enamel more resistant to the acid that causes tooth decay. Fluoride also helps repair areas where the acid attacks have already begun.
Children can get added protection from fluoride if they get it from more than one source. Fluorides may be found in toothpastes, mouth rinses and professional fluoride applied in the dental office. People can also get fluoride from fluoridated tap water or from fluoride tablets, drops or lozenges. If you are not sure if your tap water has fluoride, ask your dentist.
Bottled water does not always contain fluoride. So children who regularly drink bottled water or unfluoridated tap water may be missing the benefits of fluoride. Check the bottle water label to see if fluoride has been added.