Your child’s teeth matter! – starting at birth

A happy baby deserves healthy teeth, talk to your doctor about using fluoride. Click on a section of the wheel to learn more about keeping teeth strong and healthy.


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As the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other children's groups say, tooth decay (also called early childhood caries, or ECC) is the most common life-long children's disease in the country. As a result, it is very vital that parents work with their child’s doctor to start good oral health habits from the first weeks of their baby's life. Click here to learn more about Flouride.

Why is it important?

When kids have a healthy mouth they:

  • Can speak clearly
  • Can eat healthy foods
  • Feel good about themselves
  • Are more likely not to miss school due to dental pain
  • Are less likely to develop cavities in their adult teeth

Having a healthy mouth also means:

  • Healthy growth and development
  • Being able to focus and learn
  • A pain-free mouth

Most of us hear dental care and think the dentist but as a parent, you will be working with your child’s doctor long before you see the dentist. From birth, you will visit their doctor for check ups, the doctor can look at your child’s mouth to make sure it is just as healthy as the rest of the body. The doctor can give you tips on how to start taking care of your child’s mouth and teeth. Remember baby teeth are just as important as adult teeth.

Did you know?

  • Cavities is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than allergies in children.
  • More than 40%of children have tooth decay by the time they reach kindergarten.
  • Children with cavities in their baby teeth are at much greater risk for cavities in their adult teeth.

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Stop cavities before they start!

  • When your child’s first tooth appears, talk to your doctor about the choices on hand.
When your child’s first tooth appears, talk to your doctor about the options available.
  • Your doctor can put fluoride varnish on the tooth and/or teeth to help stop cavities before they start. As a Health Plan of San Joaquin member, there is no cost to you for this help.
  • If needed, your doctor can give you fluoride drops that can be given to your child daily to help stop cavities before they start.
  • Brush your child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day for 2 minutes.
  • If your child is younger than 3 years, brush with a smear of fluoride toothpaste.
  • If your child is age 3 to 6 years, brush with a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Young children will want to brush their own teeth, but they need help until their hand skills are better. Brush children’s teeth or help children brush their teeth until they are about 7 or 8 years old.

When should my child visit the dentist?

  • Take your child to the dentist for a health exam by her first birthday, and keep taking them.
  • If your child has not gone to the dentist, take them.
  • Ask your dentist what you can do to keep your mouth and your child’s mouth healthy.
  • Make sure to go to the dentist as often as your dentist would like you to go.

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1st birthday, 1st vistit to the dentist

Kids and parents – it’s important to get a regular dental visit your whole life, starting no later than age 1. Seeing a dentist regularly is important for your health. Dentists can find small problems before they become bigger, more painful problems. Your child could have oral health problems you don’t know about like cavities or gum disease.

Routine Teeth Cleaning by Dental Professionals
  • Getting your kids’ a routine teeth cleaaning is one of the bestways to help them learn to take care of their own teeth.
  • Routine teeth cleanings can help prevent gum disease, which can cause the loss of kids’ permanent teeth.
  • Teeth cleanings remove tartar which makes it hard to clean teeth. Cleanings get rid of stains that can’t be removed with brushing and flossing alone.
  • The Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives advises taking your kids to see a dentist no later than their first birthday.

Health Plan of San Joaquin does not cover dental benefits.give Talk to your doctor about how to start good oral health habits early. To find a dentist that takes Medi-Cal Dental Program visit, this link.

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Brush 2 minutes, 2x per day

Help your kids brush their teeth 2min2x -- 2 minutes each time, twice a day -- for healthier teeth, good breath, less cavities, and pain. The Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives advises that you help or watch over your kids’ brushing until they’re 8 years old. Once your child’s teeth start to come into the mouth, brush using a children’s toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than the size of a grain of rice.

Routine teeth cleaning by your dentist

  • Getting your kids’ a routine cleaning helps them learn the best ways to take care of their own teeth.
  • Routine teeth cleanings can help prevent gum disease, which can cause the loss of kids’ permanent teeth.
  • Teeth cleanings remove tartar. Cleanings get rid of stains that can’t be removed with brushing and flossing alone.
  • The Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives advises taking your kids to see a dentist no later than their first birthday.

Health Plan of San Joaquin does not cover dental benefits.  Talk to your doctor about how to start good oral health habits early. To find a dentist that takes Medi-Cal Dental Program visit, this link.

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3 fluoride varnish applications per year

Fluoride is nature’s cavity fighter and are in water and some foods. To help protect teeth from cavities, fluoride is added to dental products like toothpaste.

How does fluoride protect teeth? Fluoride helps make your kids’ teeth stronger, which helps prevent early stage tooth decay.. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste gets the fluoride right onto the surface of teeth. When fluoride is on teeth, it helps make the teeth strong. Also, teeth get fluoride from water that’s been fluoridated, other drinks and some foods, which also helps make tooth enamel stronger.

Who needs fluoride? Children (6 months’ to 16 years old) who do not have fluoride in tap water. The amount of fluoride needed depends on age and other sources of fluoride.

What is Fluoride Varnish?
A varnish, or top coat, of fluoride can be put straight onto the teeth up to 3 times in 12 months.   It can help stop cavities, slow it down, or stop them from getting worse. Fluoride varnish is made from fluoride, a mineral that can make the outer coating on the teeth stronger.

Where can I get fluoride?

  • Ask your doctor about Fluoride Varnish application.
    • A varnish, or top coat, of fluoride can be put straight onto the teeth up to 3 times in 12 months.
    • This is fully painless and takes just a couple of minutes.
    • There is no cost for members of Health Plan of San Joaquin up to 6 years of age.
    • Ask your doctor for children ages 0 – 6 for Fluoride Varnish application 3 times a year.
  • Get a written order from your doctor for:
    • Fluoride tablets or drops

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Change your tootbrush every 4 months

Kids should use a soft toothbrush. The size and shape of the brush should allow them to reach all over their mouth. Replace toothbrushes every three to four months, sooner if the bristles are worn out or if your children have been sick.

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5 colorful fruits and veggies a day

Fruits and veggies, along with a balanced food plan, have been noted for lowering cavities and aiding oral (mouth) health for many reasons: many fruits and veggies are good sources for vitamin C, some have iron and calcium, and they don’t have added sugars.

Be sure to get vital nutrients that aid oral (mouth) health like:

Calcium: your teeth and jaws are made mostly of calcium
Iron: Iron aids tongue health
Vitamin C: Not enough Vitamin C can lead to bleeding gums
Vitamin D:Vitamin D helps teeth and bones

Here is a list of 10 helpful fruits and veggies for teeth health:

  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Watermelon
  • Oranges
  • Pineapple
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Garlic