Teach Your Toddler How to Take Care of His Teeth
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most prevalent infectious disease in children is dental caries (also known as "cavities"), which can form in children as young as 14 or 15 months.
Thankfully, cavities are largely preventable, as long as you start taking care of your child's teeth when they first emerge.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry agree that one of the most important parts of infant oral hygiene is a primary dental visit. You should schedule this short visit soon after your baby's first tooth erupts, and no later than age 1. Starting at age 2, a child should visit the dentist every six months.
A dental hygienist can show you proper brushing technique -- brushing after breakfast and before bed with a soft-bristled, child-specific brush and spending five seconds cleaning each tooth surface. You need to be attentive when brushing your child's teeth.
Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle with bristle tips pointing toward gums as you exert very slight pressure against the tooth.
"It shouldn't be a random scrub," says Joel Berg, D.D.S., M.S., a professor of pediatric dentistry at the University of Washington School of Dentistry.
Making sure your child's teeth are brushed properly is too important to leave to him, since he really won't have the manual dexterity to attempt this on his own until age 5 or 6.
If your drinking water isn't adequately fluoridated (check with your water bureau, or do research online), or you give your child bottled water, you should consult your pediatrician or dentist to see if he needs fluoride supplements (usually as part of prescription-only, liquid multivitamins), says the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.