Care of Your Child's Teeth
Duke University Health System
never too early to begin good oral hygiene habits. Here are a few
tips to help you care for your child's teeth and gums--and start
your youngster on a lifelong path toward good dental health.
important to begin cleaning your child's teeth as soon as the first
one erupts. Even milk or formula can cause tooth decay if not wiped
off the baby's teeth.
It's best not to put your baby to bed with a bottle. Milk can pool
behind the teeth and promote decay. If your baby demands a bottle
at bedtime, serve water.
Change over to a cup for drinking by your child's first birthday.
Start regular dental visits by your child's first birthday to learn
how to take care of his or her teeth and gums. Then, take your child
to the dentist every six months for a dental exam, cleaning, and
Do not tell your children horror stories about going to the dentist.
If your child senses that you are afraid of the dentist, he or she
will probably be fearful as well. Going to the dentist can be a
fun and positive experience.
Before using fluoridated toothpaste, make sure your child can spit
out any paste left in the mouth after brushing. To minimize swallowing,
put only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste onto the brush and press
it into the bristles.
Right-handed children brush the teeth on their left side of the
mouth best, so parents should help brush the teeth on the right
side. The opposite holds true for left-handed children.
Parents need to floss between any teeth that are touching. Typically,
the gaps between the baby molars close at age four.
Give your child healthy snack foods like celery and carrots. Sugar-free
gum helps stimulate saliva and cleanse the teeth.
Have your child wear a sports mouthguard while playing any contact
sport. Make sure your child's coach has access to a "Save a
Tooth Kit" (ask your dentist for details).
Don't forget to model good oral hygiene habits yourself!
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