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Baby Your Baby: Dental visits and tooth brushing

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SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) - The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child is seen by a dentist within six months of the appearance of his or her first tooth, but no later than the child’s first birthday.

Making sure to establish a dental home for the child by the first birthday is very important. Children who have a dental home are more likely to receive appropriate preventive and routine oral health care, which reduces the child’s risk of preventable dental and oral diseases. Early preventive services are a critical component of good oral health for young children.

Lauren Neufeld, RDH, BSDH, is a registered dental hygienist and oral health educator for the State of Utah working in the Oral Health Program. She works to increase access to dental homes for all populations and more specifically for pregnant woman and children. Neufeld stopped by to share some advice with viewers.

Primary teeth, also known as baby teeth, are important for many reasons. Primary teeth hold space for the permanent teeth to grow in. If a primary tooth is lost prematurely then it can result in crowding of the adult teeth and other problems for the child later in life. Primary teeth also help children speak clearly, chew and smile.

It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that parents help their children brush their teeth twice a day until the child is able to tie his or her own shoes. Children who are unable to tie their own shoes do not have the manual dexterity needed to clean all of their teeth properly. It is important to brush every surface of every tooth twice a day using soft, circular motions to remove plaque from the teeth.

For infants take a soft, clean, damp cloth and gently stimulate the gums. This will remove bacteria from the baby's mouth and help keep it clean. As soon as the first tooth comes into the mouth, start brushing the tooth with a soft toothbrush. For young children a soft, child-sized toothbrush is recommended. Toothbrushes should be replaced every three to four months or sooner if the bristles are worn out or the child has been sick.

It is recommended by the American Dental Association that a smear of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice is used for children under age 3, and a pea-size amount of toothpaste should be used for children 3 to 6 years of age. Toothpaste tubes should be kept out of reach of young children to prevent accidental swallowing of toothpaste.

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