Teaching Grownup Grooming Skills

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Tooth brushing is another grownup activity for which your child can take increasing responsibility this year. Get in the habit of helping your child brush her teeth at least once a day, especially at bedtime and after chewy snacks. Toddlers are often fascinated by this ritual, but enthusiasm aside, most kids this age don't have the focus or control necessary to get teeth really clean. So you'll have to help with the actual brushing. When doing so, make sure you don't overlook the back molars. Your toddler may resist having you poke around in the back of her mouth, but that's where many cavities begin. Also, limit the amount of toothpaste that you use; a fair portion is likely to be swallowed.

This year you may also want to consider taking your child to the dentist. (The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a visit as early as 6 months, while the American Academy of Pediatrics says the first visit can wait until age 3, as long as your child is in regular contact with a pediatrician.) The dentist will make sure your child's teeth are positioned normally and will most likely give her a basic lesson in good oral hygiene habits, showing her what she needs to do to keep her teeth healthy.

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