Healthy Children - April 2018

Dental Health Starts Early 

Baby teeth are just as important as adult teeth.

“Some people think baby teeth don’t matter because kids lose them,” says LaToya Wilson, DMD, a general dentist with St. Louis Children’s Hospital Healthy Kids Express mobile health van. “Taking care of baby teeth teaches kids healthy habits that keep permanent teeth healthy and cavity free.”

The First Year

For infants up to 1 year old, or before the first tooth appears, rub their gums daily with a wet cloth. Also, keep bottles out of the bedroom if you can. Milk or formula can linger on the gums and cause cavities in baby teeth. For children older than 6 months, Dr. Wilson says that it’s best for kids to go to bed without a bottle.

When baby teeth arrive, around age 1, lightly brush their teeth with a toothbrush and kids’ toothpaste. By that time, he should also have his first dentist visit.

Letting Kids Brush

By age 4, kids should start brushing their own teeth. Have them brush twice a day with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste that has fluoride in it. Fluoride protects teeth from cavities. Floss your child’s teeth until age 6. Then, let her take over.

Most importantly, get your child excited about having healthy teeth. It even helps if you brush your own teeth while your child brushes his to be a good role model.

“Parents can support kids in a lifelong goal of dental health,” Dr. Wilson says. “If they are excited about it, their children will pick up on that.”

Call the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Family Resource Center or at 314.454.KIDS (5437) and press “5” to have your information about dental health sent to you.