Dental Dos and Don’ts for Kids


This month, February 2019, is National Children’s Dental Health Month. It’s important to get dental care right, right off the bat. If you aren’t sure when to start visiting the dentist and brushing or whether to avoid pacifiers and thumbsucking, check out the list below compiled from tips from Mouth Healthy brought to you by the American Dental Association and the American Pediatric Society


Dental Dos

  1. Start brushing before teeth even come in by brushing gums with an infant brush. This is good for gum health and will make starting to brush less of a shock. 
  2. Use fluoride to reduce risk of cavities. In areas where it is not in the water, teeth rot is much more common, causing pain and other difficulties. Many toothpastes also contain fluoride. 
  3. Take your child to the dentist starting at their 1st birthday. After that, an appointment every six months is recommended. 
  4. Avoid sugary snacks, gum, sodas and even too much juice. Sugar is bad for teeth and increases the risk of cavities. Chimping ice can erode the enamel – the strong outter shell that protects teeth and gives them their sparkling whiteness.
  5. Try to ween from the bottle around one and begin encouraging use of regular adult cups (rather than sippy). It’s not too early and good for mouth health!
  6. Let a child use a pacifier to soothe if you like, but try to break the habit before by 2-4 or when permanent teeth arrive. Sucking is a natural instinct and should not damage teeth. 
  7. Breastfeed even after teeth begin to come in IF you want to. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding the first year of life. 
  8. Make brushing fun! Use flavored toothpaste, cool brushes, watch videos, sing songs, even stickers and prizes to make it a habit that is happy and sticks. 
  9. Use teethers and orajel for teething babies. 
  10. When you do run into trouble, use sealants when recommended. These are highly effective and can prevent more painful procedures. 

Dental Don’ts

  1. Don’t leave a bottle in baby’s mouth to sleep.
  2. Don’t put anything but milk/formula in a bottle.
  3. Don’t encourage thumb sucking. It can misform teeth, causing problems eating and speaking. Pacifiers are an easier habit to break because you can take them away – thumbs less so!
  4. Don’t dip a pacifier in something sweet to get a child to suck on it.
  5. Don’t use teething tablets as they have unregulated amounts of belladonna, which can be poisonous. 

Keep teeth clean and kids happy 🙂

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Paula Billingsley
Originally from Columbia, Paula has also lived in NC, Florida, Alaska, and the UK before returning, after her husband’s deployment, to start USC School of Law. After passing the bar, working with education nonprofits, and going back for her Masters in English, she’s set aside being an active attorney for now to focus on her health, writing, and raising her baby girl, Evy. Paula knows life does not usually go as expected, like being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and sometimes it goes better, like eloping or adopting her best book review buddy, Evy! She binges on good tv, good books, good chocolate, good tea, and good conversation. She’s also a fan of winning, whether at board games or yoga. At home, she enjoys making art, music, stories, and tasty food with her family including two wild puppies, Poppy and Petra. Out and about, she enjoys being involved in theatre and music, like at Town Theatre, enjoying the outdoors and wildlife, attending Windsor United Methodist Church, shopping, volunteering, and traveling on the cheap! She does not enjoy laundry, social injustice, environmental destruction, the patriarchy, coffee, soda, kale, or pants. She’s excited and thankful to pursue her calling and bring her child up in this kid friendly town.


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