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Oral Health Buzz

How to Prevent Toddler Tooth Decay

Anne Maria Wynter

In the midst of first steps, potty training and new words, toddlers undergo plenty of developments that are sure to keep their parents excited and busy. So it's not surprising that parents sometimes forget to be proactive about preventing toddler tooth decay. Your toddler can start to develop tooth decay as soon as his first tooth surfaces, a milestone that occurs at around six months of age. Read on for some tips and advice on how to keep your child's new teeth clean and healthy.

Daily Tooth Care
Just because your toddler has fewer teeth than you do, it doesn't mean that his teeth require less care. The American Dental Association (ADA) notes that as soon as your baby's first tooth emerges, it's time to begin brushing it twice a day with a small toothbrush and water. After he turns two, you can upgrade to brushing his baby teeth with a bit of fluoride toothpaste. Don't forget about flossing, which you can start doing as soon as he has two teeth that touch each other.

Regular Dental Visits
Your child's first dental appointment should occur no later than his first birthday. Thereafter, you should schedule regular appointments every six months, unless your dentist recommends otherwise. Why are dentist visits so important for toddlers? Consider the fact that before the age of three, most children grow their full set of baby teeth. It's vital to bring your child to the dentist during this time period so the dentist can determine your child's risk for cavities, look for signs of decay and discuss how certain habits, such as thumb sucking and pacifier use, could affect your child's oral health.

Eating and Drinking Habits
While it may be tempting to give your toddler a bottle of milk or juice to help him fall asleep at bedtime or nap time, this common practice can be harmful. In fact, the ADA reports that any form of sustained exposure to drinks that contain sugar could contribute to toddler tooth decay. To prevent tooth damage, don't let your child get in the habit of bringing a bottle to bed or continuously drinking from a sippy cup. If your toddler has already become accustomed to these behaviors, start filling his bottle or cup with water instead of juice or milk.

To learn more about dental health for toddlers, visit the Colgate Oral Care resource center.

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