Arizona State University  
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Chicana and Chicano StudiesLatino Health Issues

Caring for Your Child's Teeth


Because of the growing concern among dental professionals as to the proper care of infant and children's teeth, many dental professionals have dedicated themselves to the proper dental education of the members of their community. This page provides detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to properly care for your children's teeth in an effort to reduce the number of cavities and other more serious problems that can result from the lack of care.

According to Joanna M. Douglass, B.D.S., D.D.S at the

The most common chronic disease of childhood is early childhood caries (dental caries in children younger than six years).

1) It is five times more prevalent than asthma.

2) Most children do not receive dental care until they are three years old, yet by that time more than 30 percent of children from lower socioeconomic groups already have caries.

3) Despite its high prevalence, early childhood caries is a preventable disease.

Early childhood caries in a child three years of age. Brown cavitations and breakdown of the anterior incisors are clearly visible.
Figure 1. Early childhood caries in a child three years of age. Brown cavitations and breakdown of the anterior incisors are clearly visible.
  Gross cavitations in the erupting teeth of an infant.
Figure 2. Gross cavitations in the erupting teeth of an infant.

Primary care physicians see children at least 11 times for well-child visits through age three and serve as the entry point into the dental care system. Family physicians caring for both pregnant mothers and infants are uniquely situated to provide early risk assessment, prevention, detection, and referral. Addressing oral health during well-child visits requires little time and involves refocusing existing activities rather than introducing new ones.

Picture shows the proper amount of fluoridated toothpaste on a toothbrush and a pencil eraser which approximates the size of toothpaste that is necessary.

The use of fluoridated toothpaste along with oral hygiene instructions should be promoted at the six-month well-child visit. Caregivers should brush children's teeth twice a day using a small soft brush with a dab of fluoride toothpaste the size of a rice grain or the tip of a pencil eraser.


Picture of caregiver that is properly brushing the teeth of a child. Caregiver is behind the child and brushing the teeth of the child that is turned slightly sideways in the caregiver's lap.The caregiver should brush the child's teeth from behind the child while supporting the child's head (left). Brushing should focus on the junction between the gingiva and teeth. Excess toothpaste should be spit out, but rinsing should be discouraged because residual fluoride toothpaste on the teeth increases the caries preventive effect.

The article Establishing the Dental Well-Baby Visit explains the necessity for children, even at a very young age, to start visiting the dentist for regular check-ups to ensure proper dental care for infants, toddlers, and adolescents. There are many dental problems that can exist well before the baby is born and before any teeth appear through the gums.

For a more complete list of instructions for caring for your children's teeth, click on the following link:


Accessibility | Privacy | ASU Disclaimer This site was created by Joel Tiffany in fulfillment of requirements for the course CSS 335: Latino Health Issues taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2005.