Fluoride has been shown to have definite beneficial effects on the growth of strong teeth, as it hardens tooth enamel. Fluoride in higher doses has also been shown to be detrimental to health in other ways. The controversy over fluoride rages on today. You will have to make your own decisions about the use of supplemental fluoride, as there are compelling arguments on both sides of the controversy.

Normally, tap water in most cities contains some fluoride supplementation. Otherwise, you could ask your doctor to prescribe fluoride tablets for regular and daily use. However, to avoid possibility of harmful effects do not exceed recommended doses of fluoride.

Cavities are the most common dental problem among children. If you allow your infant to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice, sugar present in milk or juice can remain on the gums and teeth for a prolonged period. This leads to cavities. Don’t allow your child to walk around all waking hours with a bottle. Instead, teach your child to start drinking from a cup as soon as they are able.

Additionally, if your child consumes lots of sugary foods like candy, cookies, raisins, and many sweetened fruit juices, there is a high risk of developing cavities. If most of your family members suffer from cavities, your child could also develop cavities early in life. The tendency towards tooth decay may be hereditary, but the actual development of cavities requires bacteria. The best way to take good care of your child’s teeth is to feed them good nutritious non-sweetened foods and brush regularly twice everyday, in the morning and at bedtime. Flossing once a day is equally essential.

Caring for Your Child’s Teeth - Before Birth to 6 Months

A healthy pregnancy contributes to healthy formation of teeth in your baby. A woman should eat a nutritious and balanced diet with lots of vitamins and minerals during her pregnancy. She should also, undergo a thorough dental examination and have any decayed teeth filled or oral infections resolved. Your baby’s teeth start forming from the second trimester of pregnancy. A baby at birth has all twenty teeth, although within the jaws beneath the gums.

After the birth of your child, in addition to a good nutritious diet, follow simple dental habits. As mentioned previously if bottle-feeding your child, do not put your child to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice. Sugars from juice and milk stay for prolonged periods and cause bacteria to develop. Remove bottle soon after feeding. Breast-feeding to sleep does not cause any problems.

Clean your child’s mouth and gums with a wet gauze after feedings and at bedtime. If anyone in the household smokes, you will want to keep your child away from the tobacco and cigarette smoke. Aside from the obvious harmful medical effects, this could cause gum inflammation.

Caring for Your Child’s Teeth - 6 Months to 3 Years

Infants start the eruption of their first teeth from the age of six months. They normally have six teeth around their first birthday. Use a wet cloth or sponge to wipe their gums after feedings. After the first few teeth appear, use a soft brush and water to clean your infant’s teeth. Develop the habit of drinking from a cup around nine months of age to discourage bottle-feeds.

Put a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush to brush your child’s teeth after your child is a year-old. Until the age of three, you should brush your child’s teeth both in the morning and at night. Teach your child not to swallow toothpaste.

Develop good eating habits in your child by giving foods that help in growth and development of strong gums and teeth like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Do not give sugary or high-carbohydrate foods like pastries, pasta, and processed carbohydrates.

Caring for Your Child’s Teeth - 3 Years to 6 Years

At three years of age, your child may be learning to talk and starting to understand a few things. This is a good time to teach your child good dental habits.

Teach your child to brush their teeth on their own with your supervision. You can encourage your child to watch other elder siblings and elders brushing their teeth to learn the correct techniques.

Flossing is essential as soon as teeth start touching each other. Use plastic flossing tools available in the market to teach proper flossing habits to your child.

Infants and small children often suck their thumbs. A four-year old normally stops thumb sucking on their own. If not, you can take necessary guidance from your dentist to stop this habit and avoid unnecessary orthodontic complications.

Caring for Your Child’s Teeth - 6 Years to 16 Years

From the age of six, your child starts losing all primary teeth and permanent teeth start growing in their place. By now, your child should be able to brush their own teeth independently. Make your child realize importance of brushing regularly in the morning and evening. Teach your child to floss regularly. You can ask your dentist to guide your child on correct technique of flossing.

Take your child to the dentist regularly. If your child develops cavities, the dentist will suggest proper treatment remedies. Give chewable disclosing tablets to your child regularly to detect any plaque left on your child’s teeth after brushing. These are available at local drugstores. They cause the plaque on the teeth to stain red so that it can be seen.

You can discuss with your dentist if it is essential to put dental sealants on the molar teeth of your child. Sealants are of hard plastic. They protect chewing surfaces of your child’s teeth from decay.

Teach your child to eat nutritious food like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Educate your child about ill effects of highly processed carbohydrates and sugary foods. This paves the way for healthy dental care in your youngster.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Steven J. Brazis attended dental school at the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco and graduated in 1973. He has been practicing general dentistry for 34 years. He bought this practice in 1995 and has had a very successful and fulfilling 12 years with mostly the same staff. His web site is:
His book, "Your Children's Teeth: A Parents Guide To Dental Health" may be found at:

Dr. Brazis is a member of the American Dental Association, the California Dental Association and the Sacramento District Dental Society. He is a past member of the San Francisco Dental Society where he also served a term on the Curriculum committee, responsible for the continuing education programs for the society.

Dr. Brazis practices all phases of general dentistry and has had extensive experience in some aspects of oral surgery, but enjoys most the sense of fulfillment of helping someone achieve their best smile employing the latest technology available to the dental field.

He is married with five grown children and one grandson. His interests are mostly outdoor sports. He loves backpacking and getting up into the high country of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. He has climbed almost all of the peaks in the Sierra Nevada range between Mt. Whitney and Yosemite at one time. He is an amateur photographer.