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How do I get my child to brush their teeth?

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Some tips to coax your reluctant child to brush on his own or get your little one to let you help:

Be patient. Kids can start brushing their teeth with help from a grownup around 2 or 3. But they may not be ready to go it alone until about age 6. And it can take until around age 10 until children perfect their flossing skills.

Don't wait until late in the day. If your child is tired, you may not get much cooperation with brushing, flossing, and rinsing. So start before it's too close to bedtime.

Let your child choose toothpaste. Kids 5 or older can pick their own from options you approve.

Motivate. A younger child may gladly brush for a sticker, for instance, or gold stars on a chart. Or make it a group activity. Kids might be more likely to join in if they see the grownups brushing.

SOURCES:

Beverly Largent, DMD, Paducah, KY; past president, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Mary Hayes, DDS, pediatric dentist, Chicago; spokeswoman, American Dental Association.

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry: "Dental Home Online Resource Center,"  "CDC Report Highlights Importance of Pediatric Dental Visits," "Dental Care for Your Baby."

CDC: "Preventing Dental Caries with Community Programs," "Children's Oral Health."

Children's Dental Health Project: "Cost Effectiveness of Preventive Dental Services."

American Academy of Pediatrics, Section on Pediatric Dentistry.   May 1, 2003. Pediatrics,

American Academy of Pediatrics, Section on Pediatric Dentistry and Oral Health.  Dec. 1, 2008. Pediatrics,

American Dental Association: "Common Mouth Sores," "Good Oral Health Practices Should Begin in Infancy."

Medicinenet.com: "Thrush and Other Yeast Infections in Children."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "What is the best way to take care of a young child's teeth?"

Reviewed by Michael Friedman on July 31, 2017

SOURCES:

Beverly Largent, DMD, Paducah, KY; past president, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Mary Hayes, DDS, pediatric dentist, Chicago; spokeswoman, American Dental Association.

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry: "Dental Home Online Resource Center,"  "CDC Report Highlights Importance of Pediatric Dental Visits," "Dental Care for Your Baby."

CDC: "Preventing Dental Caries with Community Programs," "Children's Oral Health."

Children's Dental Health Project: "Cost Effectiveness of Preventive Dental Services."

American Academy of Pediatrics, Section on Pediatric Dentistry.   May 1, 2003. Pediatrics,

American Academy of Pediatrics, Section on Pediatric Dentistry and Oral Health.  Dec. 1, 2008. Pediatrics,

American Dental Association: "Common Mouth Sores," "Good Oral Health Practices Should Begin in Infancy."

Medicinenet.com: "Thrush and Other Yeast Infections in Children."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "What is the best way to take care of a young child's teeth?"

Reviewed by Michael Friedman on July 31, 2017

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