Routine Health Care for Kids

Here are preventive measures you can take in three crucial areas of your child’s health to prevent problems or to detect them early so that corrective measures can be taken.

Vision exam Image - Masterfile

1. Tooth Care in Children

Tooth care should began as soon as the first primary teeth come in—usually around 6 months of age. Children love to imitate their parents, so encourage your toddler to brush along with you as soon as she is able to hold a toothbrush. You can help out with the tooth brushing until your child becomes proficient—usually around age five or six.

Be sure to supervise young children so they don’t swallow too much toothpaste. Also talk to your dentist about fluoride treatments for your child, which can be very effective in preventing decay.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that parents also floss their child's teeth from age 1 1/2 until the children are able to do it themselves (about age eight). Children should be supervised during flossing so that they do not injure their gums.

Dental sealants are also recommended by the American Dental Association.Fluoride and brushing are effective against cavities on the smooth surfaces of the teeth, but they have little effect in preventing cavities on the biting surfaces, where 80 percent of cavities in children occur. The dentist applies dental sealants on the pits and fissures of the teeth to form a tight protective seal against decay. In combination with fluoride, sealants virtually guarantee a cavity-free mouth.

Take your child along with you to the dentist and show that this is a positive experience. Making sure that a youngster is comfortable with dental treatment can do much to eliminate lifelong anxiety about going to the dentist.

Vision Care in Children

Even newborn babies can see—although vision is not sharp in infants. Vision generally improves to about 20/30 by age three and 20/20 by age four.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all children have their eyes examined at age three or four, before starting school. Eye-care professionals can often detect and treat common problems such as amblyopia (lazy eye) or cross-eyes in children this age.

During the school years a child should see an eye doctor if visual problems develop, such as difficulty reading small print (farsightedness) or a blackboard (nearsightedness). Many schools conduct regular vision checks for all students. A routine professional vision check at age 13 is also a good idea.

Hearing in Children

Newborns usually react to loud sounds by startling. Older infants will turn their heads toward the sound. Parents are usually the first to suspect a hearing problem.

Impacted earwax can sometimes muffle hearing, particularly if children stick things in their ears and wedge the wax in further. A cotton swab should be used to clean the outside of the ears only; it should never be inserted into the ear canal.

If you are concerned about your child’s hearing ability, arrange to have a hearing test done. Hearing tests are generally more precise after the first year, when children are better able to understand and communicate.


The Complete Home Wellness Handbook

John Edward Swartzberg, M.D., F.A.C.P., Sheldon Margen, M.D., and the editors of the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 30 Jul 2010

Last Modified: 19 Mar 2015