Mother Holding Son Brushing TeethKids’ teeth—paying special attention to them lay a firm foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth. They’re milestones in your child’s development, those first teeth. You mark the date in the baby book when the first baby tooth works its way through the gum. You record the day when that first loose tooth lets go, leaving an oh-so-cute gap in the grin and a bit of cash beneath the pillow.

But you can’t ignore the care of baby teeth on the grounds that when these are gone new ones will replace them because the care you give those little mouths will pay off big time down the road.

An ounce of prevention is worth an ounce of fluoride.

That may not be the exact formula, but if your kids are drinking unfluoridated water at home, you should consider a fluoride toothpaste or fluoride treatment in our office. Any problems we find can then also be detected early and nipped in the bud. Children can inherit a predisposition toward things like a periodontal disease from one or both parents. It’s an infectious disease that can spread inflammation throughout the body, and researchers have linked it to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Early detection means early treatment.

Additionally, the positive oral health habits you help your child develop can last throughout their lives. Teach kids HOW to brush and WHEN, after every meal and snack. Have them wear mouthguards for sports. Break them off thumb sucking before their fifth birthday, if possible, and then go to work on nail-biting. Encourage a taste for healthful snacks by making carrot sticks as easy to find as a candy bar, and buy only sugar-free gum.

Never Too Young to Learn

Before those tiny teeth even begin to surface, begin the habit of rubbing baby’s gums with a dry washcloth after every feeding. Continue as the teeth emerge, until the child is old enough to learn to brush. Give them help and encouragement in those early awkward attempts at brushing. Bringing them in for dental exams early—before their first birthday—lets us make friends before they decide we’re the enemy.