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There is nothing wrong with soothing your child’s teeth adventure with fairy tales. But you better know the truth about children’s oral health. All of a child's 20 primary (baby) teeth usually break through the gums (erupt) between the ages of 6 months and 3 years. Then the permanent teeth begin to emerge, usually starting at about age 6.
Your child needs his or her first trip to the dentist between 6 and 12 months of age. If for some reason your child has not yet seen a dentist yet, make an appointment for an exam.
Your 3- to 6-year-old child will be busily developing language skills and exploring the ever-widening world. It is hard of course to get a small child to sit still, and this is the perfect period during which you can teach your child good dental health habits.
Your child can learn how to brush his or her own teeth at about 3 years of age and should be brushing his or her own teeth, morning and night, by age 4. But you should still keep supervising.
Give your child a small, soft toothbrush, and apply NON-fluoridated toothpaste in an amount about the size of a small green pea. (Actually, there are different opinions about fluoride. Small children can easily swallow toothpaste, so you can give them herbal products.
Here in Dentalprof, we conclude that fluoride for children is not appropriate.) Encourage your child to watch you and older siblings brush teeth. A good teaching method is to have your child brush in the morning and you brush at night until your child masters the skill. Please teach your child not to swallow the toothpaste.
Start flossing your child's teeth as soon as teeth touch each other. You may find plastic flossing tools helpful. Talk with your dentist about the right timing and technique to floss your child's teeth and to teach your child to floss. And of course, be a good model, and floss with your child.
THUMB SUCKING: If your 4-year-old sucks his or her fingers or thumb, help him or her to stop. If the child can not stop, see your dentist. A children's dentist (called pediatric dentist) is specially trained to treat this problem.
Give your child nutritious foods to maintain healthy gums, develop strong teeth, and avoid tooth decay. These include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Try to avoid foods that are high in sugar and processed carbohydrates, such as pastries, pasta, and white bread. We know candies are attractive for children and even for you. But please keep those away from children for healthy teeth.
Keep your child away from cigarette smoke (secondhand smoke). Tobacco smoke may contribute to the development of tooth decay and gum disease. (Actually smoke destroys lots of things.) As your child grows, teach him or her about the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke.