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How to care for baby teeth to promote a life of good dental health

When those first baby teeth appear, it's time to start teaching little ones about good dental health. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams consults a pediatric dentist about when kids should have their first dental appointment and she shares tips on brushing.

A baby shows off his new teeth
Viv's son Will shows off his teeth when he was a baby. Brush baby teeth morning and night with a soft baby toothbrush and a bit of toothpaste that's the size of a piece of rice.
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ROCHESTER — A life of good dental health begins in childhood. Dr. Elise Sarvas, a pediatric dentist at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry says that kids should learn how to care for their teeth early to help prevent problems before they happen.

"The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend having your first dental visit at the sign of the first tooth or at their first birthday. Whichever comes first," Sarvas said. "At that visit, we'll not only show you how to clean teeth, especially on a on a wiggly 1-year-old, but also we'll talk about healthy foods for teeth, how to prevent trauma in teeth and what to expect moving forward with growth and development."

The American Dental Association website notes that when kids get their first teeth, parents or caregivers should help them brush twice a day (morning and night) with a baby tooth brush and a tiny bit of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice. When kids are ages 3 to 5, parents should still help them brush twice a day for 2 minutes each time with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.

The ADA says parents should continue to supervise brushing until their kids are 6 years old and they're able to spit out the toothpaste on their own. It's not meant to be swallowed at any age.

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Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at  vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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Opinion by Viv Williams
Viv Williams hosts the NewsMD podcast and column, "Health Fusion." She is an Emmy (and other) award-winning health and medical reporter whose stories have run on TV, digital and newspaper outlets nationwide. Viv is passionate about boosting people's health and happiness by helping them access credible, reliable and research-based health information from top experts. She regularly interviews experts and patients from leading medical institutions, such as Mayo Clinic.
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