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By Thea Theresa English

What parents should know about their babies' teeth

Now that your baby has his first few teeth, it is time to care for them properly so that he will not have tooth decay as he gets older. Start by taking your baby to the dentist when he is between one and two years old, and then continue with the visits throughout his childhood. Another thing you should do is rub the baby's gums gently with a washcloth after his meals. The purpose of this is to reduce bacteria buildup on his gums. When your baby turns two, you can brush his teeth with a soft bristled toothbrush and a small amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste.

Never let the baby sleep with the bottle in his mouth

Baby bottle tooth decay is a real problem for babies and you can avoid this by never letting him fall asleep with the bottle in his mouth for a long time. You should remove the bottle when he is sleeping. You can also reduce baby bottle tooth decay by sterilizing bottle nipples from time to time. This is a good idea because it gets rid of the milk stain buildup from the nipples that occur in between feedings.

Introduce water into your baby's diet

If you have an older baby or toddler with teeth, you can give him water after his meals. This is a good way of cleansing some of the excess bacteria from his teeth and gums. You can also dab his toothbrush with a little water and brush his teeth and gums. Water-filled fruits such as strawberries and watermelon are good for cleaning his teeth.

My toddler can't stand having his teeth brushed. What can I do?

Sometimes it is the toothbrush that the toddler does not like and in this case you can switch to a toothbrush with really soft bristles. Some parents sing fun songs about brushing their teeth and this might work for your toddler. It might also be helpful if you demonstrate how to brush your teeth in front of him since toddlers like to imitate.

Reduce your toddler's consumption of sugary foods

If you want your toddler to have healthy teeth, you'll need to reduce his consumption of sugary foods. Excess consumption of sugary foods could lead to cavity development, gum disease and tooth decay as your child gets older. Give him plenty of healthy snacks such as fruits, nuts and whole grain crackers with nut butters that don't contain added sugars.

What can I expect during the baby's first dental visit?

When you take your baby to the dentist, he will inquire about any mouth-related habits that your child might have such as thumb-sucking or use of pacifiers. The dentist will also give advice on caring for the baby's teeth after examining them for any potential problems. Use this visit to ask him questions about certain issues you are concerned about.

When will my child lose his baby teeth?

Your child is meant to have his baby teeth until he gets his permanent teeth. He will start this process by the time he starts elementary school, and by the time he enters early adulthood, he will have lost most of his baby teeth.

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