5. Use your mouth.
Plenty of people believe that tooth decay is inevitable or that it's hereditary. "But what's happening," Krol says, "is that there's a whole disease process that's leading up to, say, a cavity."
Just as you might ask the pediatrician if you noticed something on your child's skin, you should be as vocal about their teeth. "All you have to do is say, 'I was looking in my child's mouth and saw this — what's going on?'" Krol says. "The dentist can then tell you if it's an early sign of the decay process and advise on how to prevent further problems."
6. Eat right.
"Proper nutrition is probably more important for them than for us," Lunden says, as children are even more prone to cavities and gum disease than adults.
"You even have to be careful with food that seems good," Lunden says. Raisins, for instance, sugary substances stick to enamel even longer than some candy, and although milk is vital to a healthy child, far too often, babies are put to bed with a bottle of milk or juice that has sugar in it. The substance coats the teeth and stays there all night, leading to baby bottle tooth decay.
Foods high in sugars and starches help decay-causing bacteria make acid that destroys teeth. Limiting frequent intake of sweets — solid or liquid — and choosing vegetables, fruits, cheeses and lots of water is the best option.
And what about those fears of going to the dentist?
Forget the big drills and mind-numbing needles, because pediatric dentistry is far more advanced than when we were in the big chair.