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  • Dr. Laura Pennavaria

Tooth Care for Little Ones

We are coming right up on one of childhood's most cherished holidays: the one day of the year a kid can go begging for candy and come home with a huge pile of the stuff! It's a strange and wonderful tradition, isn't it?


With our current social distancing situation, Halloween will look different this year for sure. I've heard from several of my families that they intend to celebrate differently. One common theme, though, is that there will be CANDY.


There's nothing wrong with a little indulgence now and then, as long as we sprinkle it with a little responsibility, too. So I thought I would take this opportunity to offer up some tips for caring for your child's teeth.


BABIES:

- Avoid putting your baby to sleep with a bottle, as this can lead to serious tooth decay

- Switch from a bottle to a sippy cup at six months of age

- Use an infant toothbrush to brush baby's first teeth, with a tiny bit of baby toothpaste


TODDLERS:

- Around age 2, your child should be able to spit after brushing, but don't teach them to swish with water just yet, because they may end up swallowing too much toothpaste

- Get your child in the habit of brushing twice a day. Toddlers are creatures of habit, so this is the perfect time to lay down those life-long habits

- Beginning at age 3, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste

- Limit/avoid sugary foods, juices, and candy. These should truly be occasional treats


ELEMENTARY AGE:

- Ensure adequate (not too much) fluoride. With few exceptions, Central Oregon water is not fluoridated.

- Your child's dentist may recommend fluoride treatments

- Daily vitamins with fluoride can be prescribed by your child's doctor

- Twice daily brushing with fluoridated toothpaste is essential

- You may still need to supervise some children with brushing up to about age 8, when they can generally be trusted to do a decent job.


Enjoy all of the ghoulish delights of the season!


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