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BY: Dr John R. Liu
When it comes to dental care, good habits start early. Here’s how to ensure you’re keeping your kid’s teeth healthy so her smile is always beautiful:
DO find a dentist for your child by his or her first birthday. It’s crucial to establish a relationship with a dentist so you have ready access to information and guidance on how to raise your child to be cavity-free -- and so you know who to call in an emergency.
DON’T forget to schedule routine visits. Your child should visit the dentist twice a year starting at the age of one. For a child identified as being at high risk for cavities, more frequent visits may be recommended. Professional cleanings can be done as soon as children reach an age at which they’re co-operative and willing to have it done (often by the age of two).
DO buy the smallest, softest toothbrush. This will be more comfortable in your child’s mouth and gentler on teeth and gums. Consider an electric toothbrush for children aged six and older if it serves as a motivator for brushing; ask your dentist what he recommends.
DON’T wait too long to introduce floss. The age at which you start will depend on your child. If her teeth are tight, you’ll need to floss for her. If your child protests vehemently, however, it’s best to hold off because you could cut into her gums with the floss by accident, which can be painful and make kids even more resistant.
DO make sure your child drinks lots of water. While drinking juice and soft drinks is OK occasionally, it’s best to do it with meals and in moderation. Never, ever allow your child to go to sleep with a bottle or Sippy Cup filled with anything other than water.
DON’T allow non-stop grazing. Even with healthy foods, you need to monitor the frequency of your kid’s snacks and meals. The more frequently he eats, the greater his chances of getting cavities are.
DO take care of your own teeth! Not only is it important to model this behaviour, but studies also clearly show that mothers of infants and toddlers with untreated cavities will pass on the bacteria in their mouths to their child and increase the odds that their child will have cavities too.
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