A Healthy Mouth is a Happy Mouth: Five Tips to Keep Your Child’s Teeth Healthy

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1. Teach Good Habits – Even before your baby starts developing teeth, brush his or her gums with a washcloth along the gums. Once they start developing teeth, brush twice per day with fluoridated toothpaste. Once they are old enough (at least age 5), they should start brushing themselves with minor adult supervision.

2. Watch Out for Sweet Medicine – Many children’s medications can be flavored and sugary. When they stick to the teeth, the chance of that child getting cavities automatically goes up. These medicines can also cause chronic conditions like asthma and heart problems later on in life.

3. Avoid Baby Bottle Decay – When you put your child down for a nap with a bottle filled with juice, formula, or milk, his or her mouth fills with sugary liquids, allowing the mouth to feed on bacteria and cause tooth decay. Make sure that, if you do send your child to bed with a bottle, it is only filled with water.

4. Stand Firm on Brushing, Flossing, and Rinsing – Try giving your children a choice between which toothbrush they would like to have, which floss they would like to use, and which toothpaste they would like to brush with. Doing this still gives them choices, but the choice should not be whether or not to brush, floss, and rinse, but rather what they use to brush, floss, and rinse.

5. Get a Check-Up – Your child should have his or her first dental check-up by his or her first birthday. While it may feel like a big expense at first, it will save you money in the long run. A CDC report showed that dental care expenses were approximately 40 percent lower for children who saw a dentist by age 5.