This month-long national health observance brings together thousands of dedicated dental professionals, health care providers and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others. The ADA and dentists across the country also celebrate Give Kids A Smile Day on Feb. 6 by providing free oral health care to children.

Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children to get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

Take good care of your child’s baby teeth. They do eventually fall out but until they do, baby teeth play an important role in helping your child bite and chew food, and speak clearly. Many of the same treatment and evaluation options that adults have are also available to kids. These include X-rays, dental sealants, orthodontic treatment and more.

What to Expect During Childhood

    Wiggly teeth: When a child is about 6 years old, his/her teeth will begin to come loose. Let your child wiggle the tooth until it falls out on its own. This will minimize the pain and bleeding associate with a lost tooth.

    Cavities: Cavities can develop when sugar-containing foods are allowed to stay in the mouth for a long time. Bacteria that live on the teeth feast on these bits of food and can eat away at tooth enamel. Saliva washes away the acid between meals, but if your child is always eating, there may not be time for this acid to get washed away.

Top Tips for Good Oral Care During Childhood

  • Brushing and flossing: Begin using toothpaste to brush your child’s teeth when he (or she) is 2 years old. Young children tend to swallow toothpaste when brushing, rather than spitting it out. Introduce fluoride toothpaste when your child is old enough not to swallow it. As soon as two teeth touch each other, floss between them once a day. You can use regular floss or special plastic floss holders.
  • Dental visit: New parents often ask, “When should my child first see a dentist?” Your child should see a dentist by his or her first birthday.