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Start Healthy Habits Early
As soon as your child's baby teeth appear, they're at risk of cavities — also known as dental caries. Cavity-causing bacteria can be transferred to a baby's mouth from a parent, often from using the same spoon or sharing a toothbrush. Just as cavities can distract you from work, they can make it difficult for children to pay attention in school. So look after your child's teeth as if they're your own. Using a soft, age-appropriate toothbrush gets them off to a healthy start. They'll need help though, so brush your child's teeth until you're comfortable that he or she can brush without you. You'll probably recognize this transition at seven or eight years of age.
When your child has two teeth touching, it's time to introduce daily flossing. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using a "smear" of fluoridated toothpaste for children three or younger, and then a "pea-size" amount for children ages three through six. Discuss your child's fluoride needs with your dentist or pediatrician and prepare to take your child to see a dentist by his or her first birthday.