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Are you passing dental disease onto your kids?

Published On: Mar 11 2013 01:54:08 PM CDT   Updated On: Mar 26 2013 11:35:55 AM CDT

(NewsUSA) - Did you know that, like health problems such as cholesterol and high blood pressure, parents can also pass on bad breath and dental disease?

No, cavities aren't genetic -- but the oral bacteria that cause dental diseases are actually contagious. When parents share utensils, drink out of the same cup, kiss or share toothbrushes with children, they spread bacteria to their children's mouths. Children can also spread the bacteria amongst themselves by such actions as mouthing the same toys.

Not sure how to protect your whole family from dental disease? Make oral hygiene a family affair by following these tips:

* Establish good oral health habits. You can wipe young children's teeth with water to help avoid cavities. Start brushing your child's teeth with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste at 12 months, and start flossing when the gaps between your child's teeth begin to close. Teach older children to brush their teeth for the correct amount of time -- two minutes -- by singing a song like "Happy Birthday" or setting a timer. And make sure that you're brushing and flossing, too.

* Use probiotics. Oral care probiotics can be an effective step in a child's oral care routine. These good bacteria adhere to chewing surfaces in the mouth, including crevices, pits and fissures, helping to support tooth health. By properly balancing the bacteria in the mouth, these products help support dental health.

* Visit the dentist regularly. A dentist is more likely to notice problems with a child's teeth and gums than a parent. It will make it easier to track if you are able to set up regular dental visits for everyone in the family at about the same time each year. Most children and adults should see their dentist every six months for a regular cleaning and check up.

* Choose tooth-friendly foods. When providing meals and snacks, choose foods that help increase saliva flow, like fresh fruits and vegetables. Teach kids to drink water after eating to rinse their teeth. Avoid foods that stick to teeth, like soft, chewy candies.

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