How can I help my child have healthy teeth?
Be sure your child sees a dentist by his or her first birthday or 6 months after the first primary teeth appear, whichever comes first. After your first visit, schedule regular visits every 6 months or as your dentist recommends. Parents and caregivers often share spoons, forks, and other utensils with babies. The saliva you may leave on the utensil contains bacteria that can cause tooth decay. In some instances, kissing can also transfer bacteria. You can help prevent early childhood tooth decay in your child by making sure that your family practices good dental health habits. Do not put your infant or small child to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice, or any other product that contains sugar. The sugar and acids in these liquids can cause tooth decay. Do not prop the bottle up in your baby's mouth, and remove the bottle as soon as your baby is done feeding or is asleep.
When your child is around 6 years old, consider using a fluoride mouthwash if he or she has a lot of cavities. Be sure that your child does not swallow the mouthwash. Consider having your dentist or dental hygienist put a sealant into the grooves of the chewing surfaces of your child's back teeth to help prevent cavities. Studies show that children who have sealant applied regularly in school-linked programs have a 60% decrease in tooth decay.