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Oral Hygiene and Diet Tips

Ages 0-1:

  • Bottles should be used for feeding only.
  • Never put a child to bed with a bottle. If you must, fill the bottle with water only.
  • Even before teeth erupt, infants should have their gums cleaned with an infant wash cloth before bedtime.
  • Introduce a "Sippy cup" by 6 mo. of age.
  • Introduce a regular cup by 12 months of age.
  • Anything sipped on throughout the day, other than water, will cause cavities.

Toddlers (Age 1-4):

  • Do not allow child to sip juice, kool-aid, pop, etc.. all day
  • Juice at meal times (one meal) is ok, because it is a quick consumption.
  • There is no nutritional value in drinking more than 4-6 ounces of juice per day. (AAP)
  • Offer water between meals and milk during meals, not only for healthy teeth, but also for proper growth and development.
  • Healthy snacks: whole fruits, vegetables, yogurt, milk, cheese, applesauce
  • Avoid sweets (candy or cookies), frequent starchy foods (crackers) and sticky foods (raisins or "fruit" snack packs), because they stay on the teeth longer, so they can easily cause tooth decay.
  • The parent is the primary tooth brusher until age 6.
  • Brush all three surfaces of the teeth. (cheek, chewing, and tongue sides) 2 times/day (especially at night)
  • Toothpaste may not be necessary until age 3. Then a pea size amount should be used.
  • Flossing is necessary by age 3. The caregiver should help with this.
  • There may be blood on the brush at first. This will decrease as you brush more.
  • Cooperation may be difficult and crying is normal at this age. Maintain authority, be consistent, and continue to do what is best for your child. Once a routine is established, brushing may not be so challenging.

Ages 5 and above:

  • Offer water between meals and milk during meals, not only for healthy teeth, but for proper growth and development.
  • Do not allow/buy kool-aid, pop, sports drinks, etc. on a daily basis.
  • Anything sipped on throughout the day, other than water, will cause cavities.
  • Healthy snacks: whole fruits, vegetables, yogurt, milk, cheese, applesauce
  • Avoid sweets (candy or cookies), starchy foods (crackers) and sticky foods (raisins or "fruit" snack packs), because they stay on the teeth longer, so they can easily cause tooth decay
  • Caregivers should still help with their child's oral hygiene.
  • Your child may need help flossing adequately.
  • Your child can use full pea size amount of toothpaste.
  • Most children should be able to physically brush on own by age 6, but it may be necessary to assist them until age 8.
  • All three sides of teeth 2 times/day (especially at night)
  • Brush for 2 minutes