Time To Start Brushing: Get Your Children Practicing Good Oral Care

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(NC) - Good oral care begins in childhood. While we're all genetically predisposed to our dental makeup, parents are singularly responsible for helping their children establish good habits. "The key to establishing proper dental habits is by starting early and making it fun," says Natasha Questel, Product Director for Reach. "Parents must make sure their children's teeth are clean until the child reaches five or six years of age." In order to get your children on the right path to proper oral care, consider the following:

The first tooth: Only one in 2,000 babies is born with teeth, the vast majority sprouting their first tooth between 4 and 7 months of age. Many parents mark the occasion and try and sooth their baby's discomfort with teething rings, cold foods and teething cookies. When your child's initial baby teeth appear, simply use a damp washcloth to wipe teeth after each feeding. Not only will it remove plaque but it also gets your child accustomed to you "meddling" in their mouth.

First trip to the dentist: The Canadian Dental Association advises parents take their children to the dentist for an assessment within six months of the first tooth, or by one year of age. As your child grows and develops dexterity, help him or her brush with a soft, small toothbrush and a small amount of children's toothpaste without fluoride.

Age three: All twenty baby teeth should have arrived by this age. Consider allowing your child to help you brush your own teeth to ease them into the brushing habit. To make brushing fun, have your child select their own toothbrush with special designs and fun characters. Remember to replace their brushes regularly as children sometimes bite or chew on their bristles.

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Age four: Kids should be brushing on their own by now, but they may need a little extra help and reminding.

Age seven: Kids should be brushing and flossing daily on their own.

Watch the sugar: Be sure to monitor the amount of sugar your child consumes, and keep the amount to a minimum - sugar contributes to gum disease. Look for fruit juices with no added sugar and limit your child's intake of candy and sticky sweets as they stick to teeth. Between meals, water is the ideal beverage to consume. Avoid milk before bedtime as it stays in the mouth for a long time and can cause cavities as it contains natural sugars. Even unsweetened fruit juice has natural sugar.

Lastly, children are great emulators. If they see their parents brushing and flossing regularly, they will likely follow. Practice these tips and your children will be well on their way to developing healthy oral care habits that will last a lifetime - and they'll have you to thank.

- News Canada

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