Your child’s teeth matter! – starting at birth

Click on a section of the interactive 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 and during these visits, 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 information on how to start taking care of your child’s mouth and teeth.  Remember baby teeth are just as important as adult teeth. Baby teeth are just as important as adult teeth.

Did you know?

  • Dental cavities is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than allergies in children.
  • More than 40 percent 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.

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 member of Health Plan of San Joaquin, 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 her.
  • If your child has not gone to the dentist, take him.
  • 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.


1st birthday, 1st vistit to the dentist

Kids and parents – it’s important to visit your dentist regularly your whole life, starting no later than age 1. Seeing a dentist regularly is important for good oral health. Dentists can detect 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.

Regular Teeth Cleaning by Dental Professionals

Health Plan of San Joaquin does not provide dental benefits. However, talk to your doctor about how to start good oral health habits early. To find a dentist that takes Denti-cal visit, this link.


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, fewer cavities, and to avoid painful dental problems. The Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives recommends that you help or watch over your kids’ brushing until they’re 8. 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.

Regular teeth cleaning by dental professionals

Health Plan of San Joaquin does not provide dental benefits. However, talk to your doctor about how to start good oral health habits early. To find a dentist that takes Denti-cal visit, this link.


3 fluoride varnish applications per year

Fluoride is nature’s cavity fighter and occurs naturally 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 decay. It also stops early stage tooth decay. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste gets the fluoride right onto the surface of teeth. When fluoride is on teeth, it helps strengthen teeth enamel. Also, teeth get fluoride from water that’s been fluoridated, other beverages and some foods, which also helps make tooth enamel stronger. Tooth brushing helps remove plaque, but only fluoride toothpaste helps remove plaque and strengthen tooth enamel.

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?


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 areas of their mouth.Replace toothbrushes every three to four months, sooner if the bristles are worn out or if your children have been sick

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 bone (teeth and bones) to take in calcium

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

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