Look Ma, No Cavities

Published January 1, 2004

Your child’s dental health is part of his or her whole body health. Here are some tips to make good dental health happen. While the basic rule is a checkup every six months, there are certain habits to follow in between times at home.

  • Watch bottles in bed: Allow your child to go to sleep with a baby bottle only if it contains water. When your baby falls asleep with milk or juice in the mouth, sugars in those drinks are used by bacteria and can cause severe decay.
  • Clean baby’s gums: Good habits start even before teeth come out. You should get your baby used to mouth care by cleaning the gums with a soft and damp washcloth after each meal.
  • Start brushing teeth as soon as they appear. Continue helping your child to brush as long as they need it. You brush those parts they missed.
  • Let your child choose: When your child is old enough to brush, he or she is more likely to enjoy it with a fun toothbrush, such as one with the figure of a cartoon character–as long as it is appropriate for children.
  • Brush twice a day: Teach your child to brush for two to three minutes, twice a day, with one brushing just before bedtime, so that food particles and tartar don’t remain on the teeth during the night.

IT’S YOUR HEALTH is written by Conrad Meier, senior fellow in health policy at The Heartland Institute. This program is produced as a public service by Radio America. Meier passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005.