Protect Your Little One’s Smile


I bet you didn’t know that in addition to Heart Month, February is also National Children’s Dental Health Month! This is a great time to teach your kiddos about the importance of oral health. Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dentist visits can help children stay on track in maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

Check out the tips below, recommended by Richard Mungo, D.D.S., a pediatric dentist at CHOC Children’s:

  • Take your child to the dentist by the time he or she is 12 months old – or as soon as he or she gets his or her first tooth.
  • After each feeding, wipe your infants tongue and gums with a wet cloth.
  • When the first tooth appears, begin brushing with water, or an appropriate baby toothpaste. Toothpaste with fluoride is not recommended until your child is old enough to spit and swallow the toothpaste – around age 3.
  • Come up with, or play, a fun song for your kids while they are brushing their teeth to get them used to brushing for a full 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Remind your kids not to eat sugary foods between meals.
  • Instruct them on the proper way to floss – Carefully insert the floss between two teeth, using a back and forth motion. Gently bring the floss to the gumline, but don’t force it under the gums. Curve the floss around the edge of your tooth in the shape of the letter “C” and slide it up and down the side of each tooth.
  • When brushing, have your kids hold their brush at a 45-degree angle against their gumline. Gently brush from where the tooth and gum meet to the chewing surface in short strokes. Brushing too hard can cause receding gums or tooth sensitivity.
  • Lastly, create a calm, positive attitude about going to the dentist. Children can pick up on a parent’s anxiety and associate the dentist with a negative experience.

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Tips for Preventing Scary Tooth Decay this Halloween

Halloween sweets don’t have to wreck havoc on the teeth of your little trick-or-treaters.  Children can enjoy some Halloween candy and still avoid sugar-related tooth decay. The key to preventing tooth decay lies in limiting the amount of candy children eat, and reducing the time sugar remains in the mouth.

Brushing teeth as soon as possible after eating candy may keep harmful bacteria from developing.

Children and parents can take additional steps to protect their teeth:
• Parents should examine their children’s candy and remove anything they consider unacceptable before allowing their kids to eat it.
• Avoid candy that is too tacky or gummy, which can stick to teeth and cause decay.
• No matter what time of day children eat candy, they should remember to have good dental hygiene.
• Before Halloween rolls around, a dentist can put sealants into the grooves of children’s teeth to protect them against corrosion caused by too much sugar.   Ask your pediatric dentist if sealants would be good for your child.

For more information from the American Dental Association, visit

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