Practicing good dental habits is important for children to protect their teeth from decay. You should start early, when your baby is an infant. Your child will learn healthy dental habits when you regularly clean their teeth. Tooth decay can lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning.
James R. King, DDS, the Director of the Department of Dentistry at NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem provides these tips on developing good dental habits at an early age to help children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
- For babies, clean gums with a soft damp cloth or baby toothbrush to remove harmful bacteria.
- Use a smear of fluoride toothpaste when your baby’s teeth begin to appear.
- Avoid putting baby to bed with a bottle.
- When your child’s teeth grow in, start brushing at least two times daily.
- Change your child’s soft bristled toothbrush every 6 months.
- Floss your child’s teeth daily to remove plaque from between their teeth.
- Always serve healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. Limit sweet snacks and juices.
- Schedule your child’s first dental appointment by their first birthday.
- Take your child to the dentist regularly for check-ups.
- Ensure your child drinks tap water; all New York City tap water contains fluoride to help prevent tooth decay.
NYC Health + Hospitals provides excellent dental care at most of our hospitals and neighborhood health centers. Find a hospital or a neighborhood health center near you.