Proper oral hygiene (high-jeen) begins after your child's first feeding, and continues for a life time. While an infant doesn't have teeth at first, keeping the gums and mouth clean will contribute to good oral health. After feeding your baby, gently wipe the gums with a clean, damp, soft rag. Your infant may resist initially, but if you're consistent, this habit will soon become expected. Once teeth start to come in, begin and end this routine with sips of fresh water. Once your child is about 18 months old, use a small, soft tooth brush and a pea-size amount of fluoride tooth paste to brush the teeth. It's a good idea to use a child's flavored toothpaste, as minty adult pastes can taste too strong. Place the brush at an angle along the gum line, and gently brush back and forth. Be sure to cover the front, back, and chewing surfaces of the teeth. After the teeth are clean, ask your child to stick out his or her tongue, and gently brush it. This might seem uncomfortable at first, so be prepared to encounter some resistance. Then gently clean between the teeth and just below the gums with floss.
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