Raising a tiny human can be daunting as new and unexpected areas make themselves known. Dental care is on the list of things that are critical to maintain, but easy to forget. As adults, it is so much a part of our routine, that it’s easy to forget that tooth hygiene must be taught and practiced. There are some simple suggestions that parents can integrate to help ensure your kids’ teeth stay healthy and strong for their whole lives.

Start Before There’s Any Teeth

I know, this may seem silly, but it can lay the ground work for an easy transition into tooth brushing. Before they have any teeth grown in at all, get your little one used to the sensation of something being in their mouth aside from a bottle or pacifier. Take a damp cloth and rub their gums with it. Once their first teeth start to barely grow in, rub those down with a cloth as well. When teeth start to cut through the gums, that’s also a great time to introduce tooth paste. Some, at first, may want to find a brand that is fluoride free as it can cause minor stomach irritations. Regardless, start a dental regime before any teeth are even there. Habit and routine is sometimes the key to success when it comes to teeth.

See a Dentist Early

Most health professionals recommend kids see a dentist by or shortly before their first birthday. I recommend seeking a pediatric dentist specifically. These facilities deal with kids as their majority population and will likely have the tools and resources available to make the experience as fun as possible. Seeing a dentist is crucial in catching potentially harmful oral conditions. They are also able to help triage any tooth irregularities so that later down the road, dental interventions may be less intense. A dentist can also provide suggestions in caring for your baby as they teethe or in choosing a toothbrush for a baby.

Limit Sweets

This step may seem simple, but it can have an enormous impact. Sugar is the bane of enamels existence. Prolonged exposure to sugar eats away at teeth’s hard outer shell until it eventually eats away at the tooth itself. Limit the amount of sugar you let your kids eat, particularly at bed time after you’ve already brushed their teeth. This step applies to milk as well, which can also be very damaging to teeth and gums if it sits on them. This is a great habit to get into as early as possible.

Caring for your kid’s teeth need not be a burden. The most critical thing to remember is that you are trying to develop good habits early so that they carry them into their older lives. If habits aren’t developed early-on, then once their adult teeth start growing in, they won’t have a firm foundation in oral hygiene.