Providing oral health education to families is essential to teaching children healthy habits and preventing early childhood tooth decay.
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Tot Toothbrushes Promote Good Brushing Habits
Many parents don't know that children's teeth must be cleaned as soon as they start coming in. What they also may not know is that traditional toothbrushes may not be safe for toddlers to use themselves because they can be overinserted in the mouth or even swallowed.
Today, safer toddler toothbrushes are available that prevent the build-up of plaque and bacteria. Using toddler toothbrushes can help children establish good oral health habits at an early age.
A dental hygienist designed and introduced the first toddler toothbrush in 1993. It resembles an oblong-shaped teething toy, with one wide end for easy gripping and a narrow end with a small head of bristles. The shape prevents it from being overinserted in the mouth or swallowed, and some models have bumps around the gripping end on which infants can teeth.
Even before children's primary teeth come in, parents should start promoting oral health in infants by wiping the baby's mouth with a washcloth or gauze pad to prevent the build-up of plaque and bacteria.
It's never too early for parents to encourage their youngsters to start using toddler toothbrushes. "As soon as they're reaching and grabbing for things, they're ready for it," says Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson Bob Roesch, DDS, MAGD. "It familiarizes children with having a toothbrush in their mouths, and they like to mimic their parents."
"Parents need to be good role models," says Dr. Roesch. "They need to take good care of their own teeth and make dental care part of the daily routine for the whole family. Adults should supervise children while brushing. Adults also should help children have fun with oral care by singing songs to keep them brushing longer or making brushing a game by naming the individual teeth being cleaned."
Updated: March 2007
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