Dental care

• After the activity is over, children should drink every 20 minutes during the first hour to make up for fluid loss.

What to drink Some drinks are better than others when it comes to replacing fluids. Although water is easily accessible, active children do not always drink enough water to stay fully hydrated. Studies show that when drinking water, children will only drink about half of the amount they need; a lightly flavored sports drink encourages them to drink 90 percent more than water, so they stay better hydrated. Research shows that a scientifically formulated sports drink helps children stay better hydrated because it will replace electrolytes that active children lose through sweat. In addition, flavored Pedialyte is also effective. (See also

HEAT ILLNESSES.)

dental care Good tooth care begins at birth, when parents should begin wiping a child's gums with a wet cloth or gauze after feeding. It is important to take care of baby teeth, because they help a child chew and speak properly and guide the proper eruption of the permanent teeth.

Dentists recommend that parents establish a tooth-care routine from the beginning, brushing after breakfast, lunch, and before bedtime. By age one, when the front teeth erupt, they should be wiped with gauze after meals. By the time a child reaches 12 to 18 months, parents should begin brushing their child's teeth with a soft brush and water. By age two and three, a pea-sized bit of fluoridated toothpaste may be added to the brush. Any basic fluoride paste with the seal of the American Dental Association is a good choice. (Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.) Sometime between ages four through six, a child can begin to brush with parental supervision.

Parents might want to avoid whitening or bleaching toothpastes, since some children find these products cause some discomfort. If a child objects to the taste of toothpaste, a plain wet brush alone is just as effective in cleaning the teeth as toothpaste. Some children enjoy inexpensive electric children's toothbrushes, which do a very good job and can help kids want to brush.

Children can either visit the family's regular dentist, or choose a pediatric dentist. pediatric dentists, who limit their practice to treating only children, receive two to three years of special training in pediatric dentistry after dental school. in just the way that pediatricians specialize in children's health, pediatric dentists specialize in caring for children's teeth. A pediatric dentist can provide both primary and specialty dental care for infants and children through adolescence. pediatric dentists may be a particularly good choice for children with emotional, physical, or mental problems because these dentists are trained and qualified to treat special young patients.

Flossing

Many pediatric dentists also recommend flossing as soon as the first teeth touch—as early as age one or two. The parent should stand behind the child to floss teeth. Children old enough to floss independently might enjoy using colorful plastic floss holders in child-friendly shapes.

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