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How can you keep your child's teeth healthy?
Updated: 1/29/2013 11:44:59 AM

How can you keep your child

Caring for teeth can be challenging at any age, but it can be particularly difficult for children. This is why parents need to make sure that they teach their children the importance of practicing good dental care habits, so they can have a lifetime of healthy teeth. Unfortunately, many parents misunderstand what they have to do in order to keep their children's teeth in tip-top condition. However, parents only need to follow a few simple steps in order to help their kids avoid experiencing tooth decay, gum disease and other oral health issues. 

Take care of the mouth before teeth appear - The first thing parents need to understand is that even before their children have teeth, they still need to be taking care of their mouths. The American Dental Association recommends that, starting a few days after birth, parents wipe their baby's gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth to remove bacteria. From the second teeth appear, decay can begin, which is why parents should do all they can to make sure their children's mouths are free of bacteria. 

"The earlier you can start an oral health practice, the more it becomes just part of the daily health routine," Fern Ingber, founding president and CEO of the National Children's Oral Health Foundation, told Fox News. 

Bring children to the dentist soon - Studies have shown that many parents don't take their children to the dentist until the age of 2 or 3. Unfortunately, by then, tooth decay might already have occurred and teeth may be well on their way to needing to be pulled. Kids need to be taken to the dentist by age 1 or when their first tooth appears, whichever comes first. 

Instill healthy eating habits - Even parents who don't give their children cookies, cake, ice cream or other sweets need to be wary of giving them too much sugar. Juice, fruit candies and milk all contain sugar, so parents need to make sure to take note of how much sugar is in each serving of what their kids are eating. 

Have fun with it - Finally, when kids are old enough to start brushing and flossing their teeth on their own, parents should work to make tooth care a fun activity. One good idea is to sing a child's favorite song while he or she brushes. This will not only distract the child so that he or she keeps brushing, but it will also teach him or her how long  to brush for (two minutes). 


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