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When Should Dental Health Start?

Undoubtedly and despite the misgivings of many parents, dental health should start during infancy, even before the child's first tooth emerges. If this is continued up to school age, it is not an unlikely expectation that these children will be well on their way to a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

The secret to good oral health
Not many of us are naturally inclined to have a totally healthy mouth. Good oral health will therefore be dependent on a number of proactive measures including: frequent daily cleaning; consumption of adequate fluoride; the control of bad oral habits (e.g. lip biting and thumb sucking); a wholesome diet with minimal consumption of refined starches and sweets (especially between regular meals); and periodic care by a dentist who is knowledgeable about the special oral needs of children.

The importance of early prevention
The earlier in life that children are put on the "right dental track", the beter their chances of being among the cavity-free generation and keeping their own teeth for the rest of their lives. Parents should not be lax about baby teeth. Decay and early loss can damage permanent teeth even before they grow, and it is important that even a toothless baby receive frequent dental care.

A what age is a baby old enough for visit to the dentist?
As recent as a few years ago, some dentists suggested that parents should take their toddlers to the dentist for the first time at or before the age of 2. Now however (and rightly so), most pediatric dentists suggest an even earlier first visit. By the age of 2, some poor oral habits and neglect can be all too well established in the child and harder to reverse than if the right steps had been taken at an earlier age (such as between the ages of 6 months and 1 year).

The importance of a well-balanced diet.
A well-balanced diet that is important for a child's general health and is also important for the mouth and teeth. Such a diet should emphasize fruit & vegetables, whole grains, dairy products and low-fat animal protein foods (meat, poultry and fish). Too-frequent snacking on sweets and refined starches (including pretzels, chocolate bars, crackers, sweetened dry cereal and dried fruit sticks), can reduce a child's appetite for more wholesome foods and is also likely to promote tooth decay..

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