When you become a parent, it's easy for your mind to be filled with questions -- many of them initially unanswered -- about the basics of raising a child. Among the questions that have likely crossed your mind include those related to your child's oral hygiene. Although you don't have to worry about brushing your child's teeth and arranging a visit with the dentist right away, these are areas that are best to address before too long. Here are answers to three commonly asked dental care questions for parents of a young child.

When Should My Child Start Visiting the Dentist?

The general rule is to arrange your child's first checkup with the dentist by the time the child turns one year of age. Although a child who develops his or her baby teeth sooner could warrant an earlier dental visit, planning to see the dentist around the time of the child's first birthday is best. Scheduling the child's first checkup at this time allows the dentist to look at the overall health of the child's mouth and make recommendations about how you can alter your brushing approach to keep the teeth even cleaner.

How Can I Get My Child to Stop Sucking His or Her Thumb?

Thumb sucking can put considerable pressure on a child's teeth and lead to oral complications. If your child sucks his or her thumb consistently, the results are often noticeable during the first checkup and the dentist will recommend the changes to make to improve the situation. You can take a proactive approach, however, by working on breaking your child of this habit. One way to work on this issue is to identify the reasons your child sucks his or her thumb and then take action quickly. For example, if a child turns to this habit when upset, be ready with a stuffed animal to cuddle instead.

When Should I Start Flossing My Child's Teeth?

Flossing is an integral part of oral care, but you don't typically have to worry about doing so for the first couple years of a child's life. Up to the age of two, it's common for a child's teeth to be considerably spaced out, which means you'll be able to adequately clean between them with a brush and that flossing would have no real effect. Between two and six, however, your child's teeth will begin to grow closer together, which will make flossing necessary. Keep an eye on the gaps between your child's teeth and introduce flossing when the floss fits snugly in the gaps. For assistance, talk to a pediatric dentist.