- Scheduling a dental visit for children within six months of their first tooth appearing, but no later than age 1;
- Switching from bottles to cups by age 1; and
- Helping children brush their teeth until age 7 and teaching them the importance of oral hygiene and good nutrition.
Preventing ECCTo prevent tooth decay, the NIH recommends the following actions:
- Do not fill your child’s bottle with fluids that are high in sugar, such as punch or soft drinks;
- Put your child to bed with a bottle of water only – not juice, milk, or other drinks;
- Give children ages 6 months through 12 months only formula to drink in bottles;
- Remove the bottle or stop nursing when your child has fallen asleep;
- Avoid letting your child walk around using a bottle of juice or milk as a pacifier;
- Avoid prolonged use of pacifiers, and do not dip pacifiers in honey, sugar, or syrup;
- Work toward eliminating your child’s use of a bottle by age 12 months to 14 months; and
- Limit juice to fewer than 6 ounces per day during meals.
- After each feeding, gently wipe your child’s teeth and gums with a clean washcloth or gauze to remove plaque;
- Begin tooth brushing as soon as your child has teeth. Brush your teeth together, at least at bedtime. If you have an infant or toddler, place a small amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste on a washcloth and rub it gently on their teeth. You can switch to fluoridated toothpaste when you are sure that your child spits out all of the toothpaste after brushing. Older children can use a toothbrush with soft, nylon bristles. Use a very small amount of toothpaste (no more than the size of a pea);
- Start flossing children’s teeth when all of the primary (baby) teeth have erupted (usually around 36 months); and
- If your baby is 6 months or older, use fluoridated water or a fluoride supplement if you have well water without fluoride. If you use bottled water, make sure it contains fluoride.
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