Oral Health

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and other children’s organizations, tooth decay is the most common chronic children’s disease in the country. In fact, more than 40 percent of children have tooth decay before they even reach kindergarten. Because of this, it is very important that you work with your child’s pediatrician, from the first weeks of your baby’s life, to develop good oral health care to prevent tooth decay from happening to your child. Below are some recommendations to help your child achieve good oral health.

Teeth cleaning

Once your child has a tooth, start to use a tiny amount (size of a grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste, and clean the teeth at least twice a day – right after breakfast and at bedtime. You can increase the amount of fluoride toothpaste to a pea-sized amount when your child turns three-years-old. You should keep placing the toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush until they are six-years-old, but when they turn seven or eight, you can help them brush their teeth and let them finish brushing on their own.


You should start flossing daily for your child when they turn four-years-old. Most children can begin flossing on their own when they reach eight-years-old.

Bottles and food

Sucking on a bottle that is filled with sugary drinks, such as juice and milk, can cause tooth decay, so do not give your baby a bottle at naptime or bedtime. Teach your child how to drink out of a cup when they turn one. When your child is old enough to eat solid foods, avoid sugary foods like candy and cookies, and give your child fruits and vegetables instead. Avoid dry fruits though, as they can stick to the grooves of the teeth and cause cavities if not brushed off the teeth.

How UPMC Children's Community Pediatrics can help your child have a healthy smile?

Fluoride Varnish

Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral that is found in some foods and is added to drinking water in some cities and towns, helps protect against tooth decay. We offer fluoride varnish, a gel that is painted onto your child’s teeth, right within our practices. Available to children under five-years-old, it’s a quick, two-minute process that should be applied four times a year. The varnish prevents new cavities and slows down or stops decay from getting worse, and it can even repair the tooth if decay is starting. Learn more about fluoride varnish.