February is National Children's Dental Health Month, a great opportunity to promote the benefits of good oral health. Developing good dental health habits at an early age, including scheduling regular dental visits, helps children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
When to Start Brushing:
As soon as primary teeth start to erupt, which may be as early as 6 months of age, children are at risk of tooth decay. Therefore, the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry agree that brushing should begin as soon as the first tooth erupts.
Caregivers should follow instructions from their child’s dentist. Generally, caregivers should brush an infant’s teeth twice a day, using a child-sized toothbrush. The toothbrush should have soft bristles and a head small enough to easily maneuver inside the child’s mouth, reaching all tooth surfaces. As children become more coordinated with age, they should be able to brush their own teeth under adult supervision, continuing to use a child-sized toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles.
Children younger than 3 years should use a smear of fluoridated toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. Once children are 3 years or older, they can use a pea-sized drop of fluoridated toothpaste. Children should be assisted by or supervised by an adult and should be instructed to spit the excess toothpaste out after brushing.
Make brushing and flossing a regular part of daily activities with your children. After all, kids learn best when they have an adult to show them the right way.
Fun Activity Sheets for Kids (English & Spanish):
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