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When very young, everything is done for you, but even an infant can become accustomed to a routine. So, even though a baby doesn’t have any teeth yet, it is wise to wipe down their tiny, pink gums with a wet washcloth after every feeding to remove milk and leftover sugars. Pretty soon, they will get used to the ritual and start to expect it. And then, voilà! You’ve reinforced a good habit of oral cleaning that may never leave them.

Once a child sprouts their first teeth, gentle brushing can begin. Initially, you may just want to massage the gums and tooth/teeth with a wet, soft-bristled brush. Then, as more begin to come in, a small dab (seed-size) of fluoride toothpaste can be used.

Taking the kid into toddler age, you still want to help them brush each day and evening just so they are getting all the right places. Soon they’ll want to do it for themselves, but now that they are eating more hearty foods it will be even more important that they keep their teeth properly clean. Teach them the basics of good brushing: Twice a day for two minutes, gently but thoroughly, particularly along the gumline, and floss once a day. Along with your regularly scheduled (6 mos) dental cleaning, you will have securely indoctrinated your kid into the dental cult.

With good oral hygiene habits now established you can rest assured that when your child reaches into adolescence they will continue to keep up the good fight through and beyond the teen years. Remember, these young ages are the best times to unabashedly brainwash your kids into good habits before the contrarian teen takes over. At no other time in their life will they believe you are as all-knowing as right now! Make use of your parenting power when it counts.

If you’d like more education about early oral health care, call Drs. Koehler, Soria, and Padmanabhan and our helpful team at Pediatric Dental Associates. Phone: 860-649-4655, or come by our office in Manchester, Connecticut.