Southeastern Idaho Public Health

Oral Health

Keeping the Magic in Family's Smiles!

  • Women do not get cavities just because they are pregnant.During pregnancy it is important to take care of your teeth. When pregnant, every woman should eat healthy foods that are low in sugar, brush with fluoride toothpaste, floss, and visit the dentist regularly.
  • Bleeding gums are not caused by brushing. They are caused by gum disease. Protect against gum disease by brushing with a soft-bristle toothbrush, flossing, and visiting the dentist regularly to help keep your teeth and gums healthy.
  • Never share you toothbrush with another person. Sharing toothbrushes can spread the germs that cause cavities. It is important to replace toothbrushes when the bristles become frayed or after sickness.
  • Start early keeping gums and teeth clean. Wipe infants' gums daily with a damp, soft washcloth; as teeth erupt, adult supervision of brushing is needed up to age 7 - brush with a small, soft toothbrush.
  • Avoid baby bottle tooth decay. Offer only formula, milk or water in bottle; avoid putting baby down with a bottle; wean from bottle to cup by 1 year of age.
  • Start fluoride use early. Check with your dentist or doctor to make sure child is getting adequate fluoride. Fluoride in various forms (drop, tablet, rinse, paste) can help protect teeth from decay.
  • Make regular dental visits a habit.Start early - as soon as first teeth erupt! These early visits allow the dentist to follow tooth eruption patterns and catch potential problems early.
  • Offer nutritious, age-appropriate snacks. Children love snacks and they are important to total nutrition each day; make sure snacks are low in sugar and do not pose a choking hazard.
  • Seal out tooth decay. Sealants placed on chewing surfaces of permanent teeth after eruption offer great protection against decay; remember, generally the first permanent teeth erupt behind the primary molars (approximately age 6)

Campaign for Dental Health: Life is Better with TeethCampaign for Dental Health: Life is Better with Teeth

Programs Available
  • School Dental Health Education: Programs available to all grades in school districts that contract for services with the health department. Programs are tailored to grade level and ability.
  • Community Dental Health Education: Dental health education presented to school and community health fairs, church, professional, and civic groups.
  • Fluoride Varnish Clinic: Monthly clinics provide dental screenings, fluoride varnish applications and education to children of all ages and parents. Varnish Clinics
  • School-Based Dental Sealant Project: Program provides dental sealants to students in rural populations who are less likely than other students to receive oral health care from dentists in private practice. Programs are conducted in school settings with oral health professionals using portable equipment.
  • Long-term Care Facility Screenings: This program offers educational in-services to residents and health care providers, and provides dental and oral cancer screenings. Available to facilities that contract for these services with the health department.
Oral health links
  Idaho Oral Health Program
  Centers for Disease Control-Division of Oral Health
  American Dental Hygienist’s Association
  American Dental Association
  Fluoride Varnish: What Parents Need to Know
  Plaque: What it is and how to get rid of it
  Seal Out Tooth Decay: A Fact sheet for parents
  Idaho Oral Health Action Plan
Fluoride Supplements
Fluoride content of drinking water (well or public supply) in parts per millions (ppm) DAILY DOSAGE 6 months - 3 yrs DAILY DOSAGE Age 3 - 6 years DAILY DOSAGE Age 6 - 16 years
Less than 0.3 ppm 0.25 mg 0.50 mg 1.00 mg
0.3 to 0.6 ppm 0 0.25 mg 0.50 mg
Over 0.6 ppm No Dietary Fluoride Supplement Needed
Recommended Fluoride Dosage (mg/day)

The optimum dietary fluoride level is 1 mg per day. Fluoride consumption greater than 2 mg per day by children during their tooth development years can cause dental fluorosis, resulting in mottled, discolored or pitted permanent teeth. The period from birth to five years is the time when developing teeth are most susceptible to developing fluorosis.

In the past, fluoride supplements were thought to exert their main anti-cavity effect through incorporation into developing tooth structure before eruption. However, compelling evidence exists that fluoride supplements have a great anti-cavity effect on the teeth after they erupt. This results from the topical benefits of the fluoride when it is initially consumed and subsequently from its presence in the saliva and gingival fluids that continually bathe the teeth.