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Are baby teeth important?

Dr. Grace Lo and Dr. Jonathan Korn are parents, practicing dentists and the creators of Tooth Tissues (www.toothtissues.com).

Oral hygiene tips for baby teeth

Even though kids lose their first set of teeth, parents still need to care for their babies’ teeth and teach proper dental health to their children as they get older. Baby teeth serve several important functions that aid in your child’s development. They help in the development of speech and they hold space for future adult teeth. Finally, a healthy smile can help to build a child's self-confidence and social skills. Here’s why kids need to learn how to care for their teeth.

Sisters brushing teeth

Dental cavities in children on the rise

Dental cavities are the most common childhood disease. While most of us are enjoying fewer cavities, children ages 2 to 5 are actually seeing an increase. But there are ways to make sure your kids have healthy teeth and ward off tooth decay.

Causes of baby dental decay

Early childhood tooth decay is usually caused when babies are put to sleep with a bottle that's filled with milk, formula, juice or other drinks that contain sugar -- even natural sugars can be a culprit. It can also happen when babies are nursed to sleep, because breast milk contains natural sugars.

Tips to teach your kids good brushing habits

Helping children learn to brush their teeth -- the first step toward healthy teeth for kids -- is an important task that many parents find frustrating. Good news: These four tips will make teaching your kids to brush an easy transition and set them on the path to good dental habits.

1Start early

Health habits that start from birth last a lifetime. Even before teeth erupt, your baby's gums and cheeks should be wiped with a moistened washcloth or convenient dental wipe such as Tooth Tissues after every feeding, to remove plaque and excess milk or formula. Getting a child used to oral stimulation often helps make introducing a toothbrush easier later on -- and that's a crucial step for lifetime healthy teeth.

2Two brushes are better than one

Let "little helpers" help: Get a second toothbrush. Many young children enjoy brushing their own teeth first, but most use this as an opportunity to chew on the toothbrush, causing the bristles to splay. Parents should then use the second toothbrush to do a thorough brushing. We encourage parents to help kids brush until they are about 6 to 8 years old because not all kids have the manual dexterity to do a good job by themselves.

3When all else fails: Distract!

If your child isn't crazy about brushing her teeth (or having them brushed), distract her with a favorite song or story. You can even create a song or story about brushing teeth. Making brushing teeth a time for fun as well as healthy dental habits.

4Try different toothpastes

Many children are fussy eaters and this can extend to toothpaste flavors. Try different flavors and if all else fails, brushing with plain water is better than no brushing at all.

More on dental health for kids

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