Dental Health Facts for Kids

By Nathalie Alonso

Teeth play a crucial role in our overall health and well being. Healthy teeth make it possible for us to chew thoroughly, which is important for digestion, and also allow us speak clearly. Oral health should be a priority from birth. By developing wholesome habits from the time you are young, you can enjoy a life-long healthy smile.


Brushing is the main strategy for keeping teeth clean. Kids and adults should brush their teeth twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush. It is a good idea to brush after having lunch or snacks. According to the American Dental Hygienists' Association, you should switch to a new toothbrush every two to three months and after illnesses such as the flu. Pre-school aged children should brush with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste that contains fluoride, a substance that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay. It is important not to swallow fluoride toothpaste because it can cause white stains on teeth. For fresh breath, brush your tongue, too. When they are old enough, kids should also floss their teeth once a day.


What you eat contributes to your dental health. Cheese, milk, nuts, chicken and other meats are good because they help restore lost two important minerals found in teeth: calcium and phosphorus. Munching on celery sticks, carrots or apples after meals helps clear loose food particles. Oral bacteria feed on carbohydrates, including sugars, therefore avoid snack foods like potato chips and french fries, as well as sweets such as cake, candy and soft drinks. Acidic foods like oranges and lemons should also be eaten sparingly because the acid wears away enamel, the substance that coats and protects teeth.


Good hygiene habits and proper nutrition are essential to preventing the buildup of plaque, a thin layer of bacteria that forms on teeth. These bacteria release acids that cause holes in teeth known as cavities, which can become painful if they get too big. Another common condition is gingivitis, a disease that can make gums appear red and swollen and feel sore. It is not uncommon for children to have crooked teeth. Teeth that are not properly aligned may be difficult to clean, which makes them prone to cavities. Children born prematurely or underweight may be more susceptible to cavities.


Parents should take their children to a pediatric dentist by their first birthdays. Both kids and adults should visit their dentist two times a year. Kids with crooked teeth may also consider seeing an orthodontist, a dentist who specializes in correcting misaligned teeth using braces and/or retainers.

Did You Know?

Toothbrushes were invented in China approximately 500 years ago. Before toothpaste was invented about 100 years ago, people used other substances to clean their teeth, including ashes, lemon juice, chalk and charcoal. The first tubes of toothpaste were made of metal.

© Demand Media 2011