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Information for parents and guardians about oral health care

Children's teeth are important for eating, speaking, socializing and general good health. Starting at the age of one, children should see a dentist. Here are some tips for good oral health.

Birth through one year

  • Drink fluoridated water. Most water districts are fluoridated in King County. These levels are safe and proven to reduce tooth decay. Using fluoridated water in King County for mixing infant formula follows CDC guidelines for safety and effectiveness. If there is a concern, check with your dental professional. It is not recommended to use fluoride supplements for children residing in King County without dental professional guidance.
  • Clean teeth daily with a washcloth or soft brush.
  • To prevent decay, avoid putting infants to bed with a bottle of milk, juice or any other liquid except water to prevent decay.
  • Encourage an infant to drink from a cup beginning at nine months of age.
  • Reduce mouth injuries by always using car seats.
  • Look for a child's first tooth to come in at around six months of age. Give baby cold, firm, safe teething objects to chew.

One year through five years

  • Discontinue bottle feeding and use only a cup after 12 months of age.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste. For children under the age of five, a pea-size amount should be placed on the toothbrush by a parent. For children under two, ask your dentist or physician if fluoride toothpaste is needed for your child.
  • Visit the dentist/dental hygienist at one year of age for preventive advice.
  • Prevent thumb sucking that lasts beyond a child's fourth year.
  • Provide a balanced diet low in sugar rich foods.

Six years and beyond

  • Have sealants placed on first permanent molars as soon as they erupt, usually around the age of six. Sealants placed on the biting surfaces of molars protect them from decay.
  • Primary (baby) teeth begin to fall out. Some of them may remain until a child is 11 or 12.
  • Ask for professional application of fluoride once or twice a year in fluoride deficient areas and/or for children who have cavities.
  • Encourage the use of mouth guards when playing sports.
  • Supervise your child's daily toothbrushing.
  • Provide healthy food choices for your child.
  • Encourage sensible snacking that includes foods such as raw vegetables, fruits, nuts and cheese.