Parents need to take necessary steps to promote dental health in children. According to research, children miss more than 51 million school hours due to dental problems. Although teeth formation begins in the womb, parents can still do a lot in terms of promoting oral health. Here are some basic ways, on how you can care for your child’s teeth:

1. Promote healthy dental habits for the entire family. Your child may get the bacteria causing tooth decay, from the utensils of other members of your family. Even kissing can transmit bacteria from one person to the other. To prevent this, you need to ensure that your family has good dental habits.

2. Start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth has erupted. Choose the appropriate toothbrush for your child. Choose a toothbrush with round-ended bristles because it is gentle on the gums. Throw away a toothbrush after 3 months of use, or when you notice that the bristles have frayed. Children usually learn how to use a toothbrush at about age three. A four year old child should already be brushing his teeth twice a day. Ideally, children should still be supervised while brushing the teeth until they are 7 or 8 years old.

3. Encourage the use of cups when a child reaches 9 months of age. Babies may be prone to developing tooth decay because of the constant contact of liquids containing sugar. Acid from milk, formula, or juice can cause tooth decay early on. As much as possible, remove the bottle from your child’s mouth after feeding, or when your child has fallen asleep. Have your child stop thumb-sucking because it can contribute to the development of dental problems.

4. Ensure that your child is eating a healthy diet essential in keeping the gums healthy, as well as developing strong teeth. Offer more whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Avoid giving your child foods that are high in sugar and processed carbohydrates. Try not to offer your kids sweet and sticky food items. These may only promote prolonged contact of sugar with the teeth, which may cause damage. To promote oral health, offer your child more cheese during snacks or at the end of the meal. Aside from being a good source of calcium, research has shown that cheese helps fight cavities.

5. Do not let your child be exposed to secondhand smoke. This may be a contributing factor in the development of tooth decay, gum disease, and other health concerns.

6. Think about regular dental check-ups. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child’s first visit should be scheduled, between the eruption of the first tooth and first birthday. There is also a need to ask the dentist regarding your child’s fluoride needs, as well as guidelines regarding flossing in children.

Parents need to start caring for a child’s teeth early on, so that dental problems can be prevented. Aside from preventing future problems, you may also be setting your child for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.