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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Good Dental Health Tips for Babies and Toddlers

Although they’re young, babies and toddlers greatly benefit from good dental health care. These simple tips can help you give your child a strong, healthy smile for years to come.
Set Up a Family Routine
Plaque is the sticky, yellow film that forms on our teeth, and it needs to be brushed away every day to protect teeth from decay. Your baby might not have teeth yet, but you can help keep his or her gums healthy by gently wiping them with a soft cloth after feedings.
Once your baby develops teeth, transition to a small toothbrush and brush your baby’s teeth twice a day (once in the morning and once before bed). Gently brush each surface of the tooth in a circular motion, and avoid toothpaste. As your baby grows into a toddler, continue to help during teeth brushing time, using songs or chants to put some fun into the process!
Talk with your dentist about the best time to bring your child in for his or her first appointment to the dentist, then schedule regular appointments every six months for routine maintenance!
Discourage Bad Dental Habits
The bad news is that there are dental habits that are harmful to your child’s teeth. The good news is that these habits can be broken. One in particular is thumb sucking or the use of pacifiers, which is typically how babies and toddlers find comfort. It might be easier to break the pacifier habit since it’s not attached to your child’s body as a thumb is, but the important point is to encourage your child to stop the habit between the ages of two and four years of age. Your dentist can also help you and your child break this bad dental habit.
Another bad habit for your child’s teeth is swallowing toothpaste. It’s generally not needed for babies or toddlers, partly because it tastes good so they want to swallow it. Fluoride may be prescribed by your doctor depending on where you live, which is crucial for your child’s development of healthy teeth. Swallowing toothpaste, however, can lead to white or brown spots on your child’s teeth from ingesting too much fluoride. Avoid toothpaste altogether, or provide a brand made especially for your young child.
Healthy Food = Healthy Teeth
Plaque is the result of foods high in sugar and carbohydrates, and cutting down on these types of foods can help control plaque. When the sugars mix with naturally-occurring bacteria in your mouth, plaque is formed that eventually causes tooth decay. Help control plaque by providing your young child with a variety of fruits and vegetables – crunchy, all-natural foods and those high in Vitamin C help remove plaque naturally. Add in whole grains and dairy products for a balanced diet and healthy teeth!
Another essential way to control plaque is to take your child to dentist appointments every six months. The routine exam and teeth cleaning will help keep your little one’s smile healthy and bright!
Kelly Wilson is a busy mom, former teacher and freelance writer. Visit Dr. Lance Heppler, http://www.dentaldesignsvancouver.com Dentist in Vancouver, WA for more information about how to teach your kids to take care of their teeth regardless of age.



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