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Good dental hygiene is important for many reasons beyond a bright smile. To instill good dental habits in your child, get him started at a young age.

It’s important to keep toddler teeth clean. Cavities form when the naturally occurring bacteria in your toddler’s mouth combine with sugars in the food residues left on his teeth, producing an acid that attacks his tooth enamel.

When to Clean Toddler Teeth

Your toddler will need his teeth cleaned at least twice a day. After breakfast and after his evening meal are ideal times, but before bed is the most important time to brush a child's teeth; decay-causing bacteria are more likely to grow at night.

How to Brush Your Toddler’s Teeth

  • Appeal to your toddler's sense of independence (only big boys and girls get to brush their own teeth), provide some tasty toothpaste and a small, soft toothbrush, and the task may be greeted with the same enthusiasm as a new toy.
  • Use a pea-size amount of toothpaste containing fluoride. Too much fluoride could cause permanent tooth stains
  • He may only concentrate on the front, so remind him to get the teeth hiding in the back
  • Show him how to rinse thoroughly with water, and then carefully brush his teeth yourself, as young children usually don't get into all of the cracks and crevices. By the time he's in second or third grade, he'll be able to brush his teeth on his own

When to Take Your Toddler to the Dentist

Now is a good time to get your toddler used to visiting the dentist every 6 months for a checkup. Do your best to make the occasion fun. If he's nervous, sit him on your lap in the "magic" chair so the dentist can have a quick look inside his mouth.

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Tooth Care for Children

Brush up on how to care for your toddler’s teeth. BabyCenter® offers advice on dental care for your toddler.

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