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Dental care for kids is often insufficient and good habits fall by the wayside in the general hustle and bustle. However, establishing good dental habits early will help kids avoid a lifetime of dental problems and enjoy clean, healthy teeth. Even before the teeth come in, caring for the gums can help to ensure that your child will have good dental health.

Infant Stages

When your child is an infant, wiping the gums off with a warm, soft washcloth can help to prevent plaque from forming. As the teeth come in, a very soft bristled toothbrush and water should be used to brush the teeth. As soon as two teeth come in beside one another, you should start flossing the child’s teeth. The first dentist appointment should be scheduled at some point before the child’s first birthday.

Avoid Bottle Decay

Throughout infant and toddler stages, there is a risk of bottle decay if your child drinks from a bottle. Milk and juice contain sugars, so prolonged exposure to these liquids will allow the sugar to stick to the teeth and form plaque. To avoid bottle decay, don’t put your child to bed with a bottle and get the child into the habit of drinking their drink all at once and finishing it. This may help to avoid a pattern that will inform sipping and snacking behaviors that can also be harmful for teeth later in life.

 Toddler Stages

Children develop at different rates, so it is up to you to decide when your child is old enough to start brushing on his or her own. Children often feel a sense of accomplishment when they are able to brush their own teeth, which may help you to instill good dental health habits. Try to break children of the habit of using a pacifier, thumb-sucking, and other behaviors that may put pressure on the teeth and introduce bacteria.

Early Childhood Stages

Teach your child to floss, but always double-check the teeth to ensure cleanliness. The back teeth are more difficult to reach, so children often tend to miss food particles and debris that may lead to the development of dental carries. As children progress into early childhood, hold them accountable for dental care and bring them to regular bi-annual dental check-ups. Educate children about how the process of losing teeth works so that they are not apprehensive and know exactly what to expect.