(NC) As parents and guardians, we are responsible for the health and well-being of our children, including their oral health. So, it’s never too early to start teaching good habits to reduce the risks of tooth decay and oral disease.

Once baby’s first tooth appears, parents and guardians should clean it with a small, soft toothbrush or gauze and use floss to clean between teeth that are touching.

Young children who are old enough to hold a toothbrush should be taught how to brush their teeth twice a day and to clean between their teeth.

Parents and guardians need to help with toothbrushing until children are able to do it properly on their own. Teens should be reminded that brushing their teeth only takes two minutes twice a day, followed by oral rinsing and cleaning between the teeth. Asking them to go easy on the pop and junk food will help too.

If toothbrushing time is a daily struggle, try these tips to turn those tears into cheers:

  1. Offer little ones rewards, such as stickers, high fives or extra bedtime stories, for good toothbrushing skills.
  2. Play music in the bathroom — any fun two-minute song will do.
  3. Show your kids the latest interactive brushing apps.
  4. Take them shopping for their own toothbrushes.
  5. Make brushing a family affair. There’s always room for one more at the sink.

Build good daily oral hygiene habits early. Teaching your kids to care for their teeth and scheduling regular dental hygiene appointments beginning at age one will give everyone something to smile about.

Find more tips at www.dentalhygienecanada.ca/kids.