Children’s teeth start to form even before their birth. By the time they reach the age of approximately six months, baby teeth begin to grow. By the time children are about three years old, all 20 of their primary teeth appear. By the age of six, permanent teeth begin to appear and this process usually goes on till the age of 21. Teeth last a lifetime, so it is very important to take care of them from a very young age. Here are some preventative measures and a guide of oral care habit all children should follow. One of the greatest examples parents can set as good role models is actively limiting their own sugar intake so their children will in turn will be less inclined to want sugar. This prevents tooth decay. Children should get sufficient fluoride through drinking water or through fluoride supplements if drinking water is not fluoridated. Children should be properly taught to brush and floss on a regular basis. Here are some common problems parents may face when it comes to oral health care and the possible ways to prevent these problems: Babies Baby bottle tooth decay is a very common problem that many parents are not aware of. All parents need to do is to ensure that they wipe gums with gauze or a clean washcloth and water after every single feeding. Once teeth begin to appear, parents should brush children’s teeth twice daily with a very tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste (rice grain amount). Encouraging children to drink water instead of juice is also a very good idea. Thumb sucking, termed as ‘non-nutritive sucking’ includes thumb or finger sucking or the use of pacifiers. Although pediatricians agree that this habit has formative and nurturing functions and should be ignored till the age of four, parents should look into ways of weaning children off this habit before permanent teeth begin to appear. Toddlers are sometimes afraid of dentists so parents should allow them to sit in their laps during dental visits so they are more comfortable. Parents may face difficulty in establishing a good dental care routine with toddlers. If they are consistent in making their child comfortable during the check-ups, it becomes a little easier. Involving the whole family also helps. Grade-schoolers The love for sweets at this age makes it difficult for parents to establish good eating habits. Reduce the portion of sweets to a minimal amount so children don’t feel deprived, while also avoiding excess sugar intake which can lead to cavities and other tooth-related issues. Introduce and encourage healthy snacks such as yoghurt, vegetables and cheese. This is the age when oral injuries are common from sports and falls. Parents should encourage their children to wear custom-made mouth guards during sports to minimize the risks. Teenagers This is the age when many children are wearing braces, and they become a little laid back about oral care. Parents must encourage children at this stage to brush and floss well around the braces and remove all food particles using a floss. Parents have an important role to play in establishing good oral care habits from a very young age.