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Baby Teeth and Children's Tooth Brushing

Dentists and Dental Procedures

As a parent, you've watched your child's smile change dramatically. But your growing child's teeth need different attention than your adult teeth do. Good dental care starts early, as soon as your child has baby teeth.

To avoid infant tooth decay, be sure to watch what you're giving your little one right before bedtime. Don't send your baby off to sleep with juice or milk to drink, as the sugar in both liquids will help bacteria grown in the baby's mouth. Drinking while drifting off to sleep lets the liquid pool around your child's teeth, which can cause tooth-damaging acid. If your child absolutely needs a bottle in bed, fill it with water instead.

Wipe your baby's gums and teeth with a wet cloth after mealtime to remove plaque and remaining food. You can start brushing your child's baby teeth early on with a soft bristled, age appropriate brush about the same time there are teeth to brush. Use a pea sized squeeze of kid's toothpaste and brush away.

You'll need to be in charge of the brushing event for quite some time, as your child won't be as thorough as necessary or have the dexterity to properly brush their teeth until they are around 5 to 6 years old. Make tooth brushing a fun game and something to look forward to. Try brushing your teeth together so they can learn more through observation, like where to brush, how to hold their toothbrush properly and how to rinse out their mouths and spit out the toothpaste.

Pick out a 'tooth brushing song' that lasts about 1 to 2 minutes so that at the end of the song, you and your child can stop brushing to ensure a long-enough tooth brushing session. Allow your child to pick out his or her own toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. Make tooth brushing an event to look forward to instead of a battle of the wills.

As with any new life lesson, getting your child comfortable and consistent with the care of his or her baby teeth takes time and patience. Try setting up a reward system if your child is having difficulties, like decorating a chart. He or she can add a sticker every morning and night after tooth brushing time, to help make it a positive experience for you both.

And it's a good idea to introduce your child to the family dentist early, and help them develop a positive impression of the experience of taking a trip to the dentist. This will make it less frightening when it's time for your child to visit the dentist, oral surgeon or orthodontist.

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