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toothbrush and paste

Oral Hygiene Makes a Difference

When tooth decay goes untreated, the consequences can be serious and lifelong. As the most common disease of childhood, tooth decay is 4x more common than early childhood obesity and 20x more common than diabetes. Because of this, it’s important to start your child out with good dental hygiene habits from a young age. Brushing your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes each time can help prevent tooth decay. And don’t forget to floss daily!

brushing teeth icon

What to do Before the Appointment:

If possible, schedule morning appointments so young children are alert and fresh. Explain to your child why it’s important to go to the dentist. Build excitement and understanding. If you have dental anxieties, be careful not to relate those fears or dislikes to your child. Parents need to give moral support by staying calm while in the dental exam room.

dentist icon

What to Expect at the Appointment:

Your child’s first dental visit is to help your child feel comfortable with the dentist. A first appointment is recommended by 12 months of age, or within 6 months of the first tooth coming in. The first visit usually lasts 30-45 minutes. Depending on your child’s age, the visit may include a full exam of the teeth, jaws, bite, gums, and oral tissue to check growth and development. If needed, your child may also have a gentle cleaning. This includes polishing teeth and removing any plaque, tartar, and stains.

Casi Sutherland, DMD

Casi Sutherland, DMD

How your child reacts during their appointment could be linked to their age:

10-24 months – Some securely attached children may get upset when taken from their parents for an exam.
2-3 years – A child will be more likely to cope with a brief separation from parents.
4 years – Most children should be able to sit in another room from parents for exams and treatment procedures.

Shot of an adorable little girl brushing her teeth in a dentist’s chair

Protect Your Child's Teeth at Home:

  • Before teeth come in, clean gums with a clean, damp cloth.
  • When your child’s tooth first appears, start brushing with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a very small amount of toothpaste.
  • Don’t give children a bottle of milk, juice, or sweetened liquid at bedtime or naptime, as this could increase the chance of tooth decay.
  • Help your child brush his or her teeth until age 7 or 8. Have the child watch you brush as an example.
  • To encourage your child to brush their teeth, try singing a brushing song, create a sticker chart, or reward them for brushing their teeth.
Mom and daughter eating apples on a blanket on a picnic in the summer. Happy family in the park on holidays.

Healthy Eating at a Young Age:

Eating lots of sugar can lead to cavities and gum disease. Encourage your child to eat healthier foods and drinks in order to create healthy habits for a lifetime.

  • Good: crunchy fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, cheese, water
  • Bad: chips and crackers, chewy candy, sugary drinks
Rocky the Raccoon
Rocky the Raccoon

For Kids

Click on the images below to download and print these fun Rocky the Raccoon coloring pages.

Rocky the Raccoon Coloring Page
Rocky the Raccoon Coloring Page
Rocky the Raccoon Coloring Page
Rocky the Raccoon Coloring Page
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