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What is baby-bottle tooth decay?

Baby-bottle tooth decay is tooth decay in very young children. It is caused by laying a child down with a bottle. It can be caused by milk, juice or water; bacteria forms when the liquid pools in the child's mouth, and the bacteria cause the decay. Although a child with baby-bottle tooth decay will lose those baby teeth, there can be long-lasting effects on the child's gums. Never lay your child down with a bottle.

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When should I start teeth brushing with my child?

Once your baby has a couple of teeth, begin modeling healthy dental habits by cleaning his/her teeth twice a day. Do this with a damp, soft cloth or with an infant toothbrush. Only use water to brush your child's teeth until 3 years of age; fluoride can cause tooth discoloration for children younger than 3. As your child becomes interested, let him/her brush his/her own teeth but always help to brush difficult-to-reach areas.

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When should my child see the dentist?

Schedule your child's first dental visit by one year of age. At this point the dentist will just check to be sure everything is coming in OK.

Once your child turns 3 years, get him/her to the dentist every six months. The first several check-ups serve to introduce your child to the dentist. The doctor will check to be sure there are no major problems such as baby-bottle tooth decay. Your child may suggest fluoride treatments after your child turns 3 if he/she thinks your child is not getting enough in the water.

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Brought to you by The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education


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