A Healthy Mouth is Important for Every Child

  • Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children.
  • Tooth decay (cavities) can cause your child pain and lead to serious health problems.
  • Cavities can impact your child’s speech, school attendance and self-esteem.
There’s good news. You can prevent tooth decay for your child!

How to Keep your Child’s Mouth Healthy

Regular dental visits and proper oral hygiene can keep your child’s mouth cavity free for life

  • Maryland’s Medicaid dental program, Maryland Healthy Smiles, provides free dental care for children from birth to 20 years old and during pregnancy.

Begin Early

  • Children should brush their teeth 2 times a day for about 2 minutes each time with a toothpaste that contains fluoride
  • Parents should help their child brush until their child is at least 7-8 years old.
  • How to Brush
    • Place the toothbrush against the gum line at a 45-degree angle.
    • Use a small circular motion to brush the teeth.
    • Brush back and forth on the chewing surfaces of the teeth, holding the brush flat.
    • Do not forget the back of the teeth.
    • Brush the tongue.
  • Never share toothbrushes; it spreads germs.
  • The amount of fluoride toothpaste that should be used in brushing children’s teeth varies at different times in a child’s development.
    • Under Age 3 use a smear, about the size of a grain of rice
    • Age 3 - 6 use a pea-size amount
    • Spit, do not rinse, after brushing.
  • When brushing, be sure to brush all surfaces of the teeth and the tongue.
  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3 months and especially after illness (particularly strep throat).

Dental Visits

  • Children should visit the dentist twice a year for a routine cleaning and dental examination. However, your dentist may want to see you or your child more or less often. It is best to follow their guidance.
  • Let your dentist know if you or your child has a medical condition or is taking medication.
  • If your child has bleeding gums that continue longer than 2 weeks, see the dentist.
  • To find a dentist who takes Medicaid (Maryland Healthy Smiles)

Dental Sealants

  • Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth.
  • Dental sealants prevent cavities.
  • The back teeth are most likely to get cavities because small amounts of food and sugars get trapped in the uneven surfaces on the tops of the teeth.
  • Dental sealants prevent cavities by “sealing out” food and sugars. Your child should get dental sealants between ages 5 and 7, when their first permanent molars come in. Most dental insurance pays for sealants. Medicaid dental insurance for children, also known as Maryland Healthy Smiles, pays for dental sealants. To find a dentist who takes Medicaid visit: link
  • Many people don’t know that Medicaid offers dental insurance for children. If you do not have dental insurance for your child and think you are eligible for Medicaid contact: (Provide link to Maryland Healthy Smiles.)


  • Floss daily to clean between the teeth.
  • Parents should floss their child’s teeth until they are at least 7-8 years old.

Foods for healthy teeth

  • Limit sugar and eliminate sugary beverages such as soda or pop, juice that contains sugar, and punch.
  • Drink water or milk instead of sugary beverages.
  • Do not chew gum that contains sugar.
  • Read nutrition labels so you can make food choices that are low in sugar.
  • Treats like candy, cake, cookies and ice cream should be given – only as treats!
  • Eat well-balanced meals consisting of fresh foods, such as fruits and vegetables, salads, dairy and lean meats and fish unless you are have a special diet or are under dietary restrictions.

Many people don’t know about Medicaid dental coverage. If you do not have dental insurance for your child, are pregnant, or are considering pregnancy, contact Medicaid to see if you qualify for dental insurance.