Providing oral health education to families is essential to teaching children healthy habits and preventing early childhood tooth decay.
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Toddler Tooth Tips
Congratulations! Like most children between 3 and 6 months, your infant just received his or her first tooth. But as a parent, do you know how to take care of those teeth to ensure a healthy smile that will last a lifetime? Take your child to the dentist six months after the eruption of the first tooth, encourages the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), an organization of general dentists dedicated to continuing dental education.
"At the first visit the dentist will show you the right way to care for your child's teeth by showing you brushing techniques and identifying any early problems, including crowding, appearance of calcium deposits or an abnormality in the number of teeth," says AGD spokesperson Julie Barna, DDS, MAGD.
Use a warm washcloth or a moistened cotton swab to clean your child's teeth after every meal. This gets the child used to something in his or her mouth. After this, graduate to a small, soft toothbrush. You don't need to add toothpaste into the regimen until your child is 2 years old; use only a pea-sized amount on the bristles. "Make sure to develop a system so that you don't miss any teeth," says Dr. Barna. She suggests starting from the back to clean the molars, which are most susceptible to infection, and then working forward to the front teeth by pulling back the lips. You can either face the child or have him or her sit on your lap.
Additional oral health tips for parents:
Updated: February 2007
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