Good Dental Habits Start Early

Although they’re just little people, young children lead active lives. And, their busy minds aren’t always focused on those good dental habits you try to instill early on. Until they get a grip on the importance of taking care of those precious pearly whites (even if they’re just baby teeth), here are some tips and suggestions that can help:

Start Brushing – Early and Often

Preventable tooth decay is one of the most common, chronic diseases in children and teens. And, according to the American Dental Association, by kindergarten, more than 40% of children have cavities or some tooth decay.

Deciding when to start brushing your child’s teeth is easy – do it as soon as you see them start to emerge during the sometimes pesky, painful teething stage. Without delay, you should take your child to a dentist by his or her first birthday. Early care can help prevent costly and painful procedures. In fact, a recent Centers for Disease Control report found that for children who see a dentist by age five, parents’ dental care costs were nearly 40% lower over a 5-year period.

Good Habits = Good Teeth

It may seem unnecessary when all you see are gums, but brushing is an essential habit from birth. Before those first baby teeth appear, parents can gently brush babies’ gums with water and a baby toothbrush, or a soft, clean washcloth or gauze.

Brush twice daily with a baby toothbrush and non-fluoride toothpaste when teething begins. Teach young children how to spit in preparation for fluoride toothpaste, and begin to use floss when pairs of touching teeth break through. Encourage them to avoid food or drink, except water, until the next morning.

Sugar & Sippy Cups: Do Away With Decay

Sugary liquids adhere to baby teeth, providing just the right environment for harmful, decay-feeding bacteria. Parents should avoid putting children down for naps with juice, formula, or milk; if he or she must have a bottle at bedtime, make sure it contains only water.

Sippy cups are great for helping transition babies and toddlers from a bottle to a cup. However, consistent sippy cup usage can lead to front tooth decay of the front teeth, especially when filled with sugary drinks.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that using pacifiers only through age 1 may help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Pacifiers should be removed once that baby is asleep, as long-term use is shown to affect the bite or shape of a baby’s mouth.

Stand Tall on Teeth


Instilling good dental habits in children starts by standing firm and modeling through your own regular brushing and flossing. As with anything new or somewhat boring, children may resist forming their own, consistent dental routine. However, brushing, flossing, and rinsing should not be seen as a choice, but as a normal part of proper hygiene and good health.

Some challenges in this area are to be expected. Below are some tips to help parents get the job done:

  • Be patient. By around age 2 or 3, most toddlers are ready to assist with brushing their teeth, but many children don’t get good at it until about age 6, according to dental professionals. Good technical skills such as flossing and using mouthwash may not come until the late elementary years. Go slow, and stay the course.
  • Don’t delay. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing are much easier tasks for a well rested, undistracted child. Build it into his or her morning and night regimen.
  • Offer choice. Allow children ages 5 and older to weigh in when purchasing toothpaste, toothbrush, and floss in the store.
  • Motivate. Younger children are especially motivated by rewards such as stickers and kudos on a daily brushing chart. Reward them with fun dental tools, i.e. toothbrushes and other items with their favorite animated characters.

Dr. Tanesha Francis is the owner of Park Slope Kids Dental Care in Brooklyn, NY. Make an appointment with her at 718-488-0200 or visit www.parkslopekidsdental.com

Our Location

150 4th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217 (between Butler St. & Douglas St.)

Hours of Operation

Our Regular Schedule

Park Slope Kids Dental Care


2:00 pm-7:00 pm



2:00 pm-7:00 pm


2:00 pm-7:00 pm


9:00 am-5:00 pm


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  • "My child had the best check-up ever… she even had to have a filling. My daughter didn’t feel any pain and said she really liked Dr Francis!! The office is also great and inviting. Overall a great experience."
    Felicia G.
  • "If you are looking for the perfect place to take your little one for his/her super-important first dental visit, this is the PERFECT FIT! I noticed the new practice that opened up in the neighborhood near where I work, and I’m so glad I gave it a try! Dr. Francis was amazing she made my little guy (he’s 3) feel completely at ease for his first appointment at the dentist. He don’t even cry once! If you knew my kid, you would know that is a major accomplishment! The office is clean and modern with state of the art equipment; totally unexpected for a kids dental office. I have decided to officially make Dr. Francis my munchkin’s dentist! I would definitely recommend the office to other parents and I have already passed the info along to friends and coworkers."
    Melanie M
  • "I have 3-year old twins and we visited Park Slope Kids Dental Care on 3/1 and it was a great experience. Dr. Francis is fantastic and her staff are wonderful. I had to reschedule my appointment at the last minute and they were super accommodating. The office is beautiful and kid-friendly–really. I’ve been to other offices where they claim to be kid-friendly and all I can see that makes it “friendly” are a few books and pint-size chairs. Nicole–mom to C & P (the best gifts ever)"
    Nicole M.
  • "Dr. T Francis at Park Slope Kids Dental Care is great. At our appt yesterday, I hadn’t wanted to let all three to the exam room at once because they would incite a riot, but the doctor said that she welcomed it. She also let my eldest hold instruments during her sisters’ exam. Lovely doctor; great practice."
    Nicole M
  • "I like that this a friendly kids environment dentist office. They make the kids very comfortable and happy smiling teeth. I recommend to every parent who looking for a kid zone dentist office that won’t have your kids screaming their head off."
    Tanya R.
  • "I cannot rave enough about this place! Dr. Francis was amazing and the staff was friendly and professional. The office is clean and modern, with lots of cool activities for kids. I like it that they will accomodate you if you don’t want your kid watching tv! A huge plus in my book! My son is 4 and the exam went off without a hitch. Before we knew it, his teeth were clean, his issues were addressed, and we were out the door with a balloon and a goodie bag! I was dreading this day, but we made it out without my son having a metldown! Dr. Francis is a godsend. This will be his dentist through college!!!!"
    Martien J