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From the First Tooth

From the First Tooth™ is an early oral health prevention initiative that works with parents, doctors and dentists to help you protect your child's teeth.

What is early childhood oral health?

Cavities do not have to be part of growing up. Tooth decay is almost always preventable. Early fluoride for your child's baby teeth is important to oral health and having healthy teeth throughout life. Kids who get early cavities in their baby teeth risk having dental problems in their adult teeth. Start early in protecting your child's teeth.

Maintaining good oral health during pregnancy is important because it can decrease a child’s chances of dental problems in the coming years. To learn more about how to care for your teeth and gums while you are pregnant, visit the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center.

Your Baby’s Growing Teeth

Most kids start to get their baby teeth when they are between 6-10 months old. By the time they are 2 years old they should have all 20 baby teeth.

Kids should have their first visit with a dentist by their first birthday. It helps to start a relationship with a dentist early so that it is part of your child’s normal routine.

Tips to Prevent Tooth Decay:

  • Before your infant gets their first tooth, try to clean their gums once a day with a soft, clean, damp cloth. This gets your baby comfortable with the feeling.
  • Don’t share spoons and cups with your baby.
  • Don’t clean your baby’s pacifier with your mouth.
  • If you put your baby to bed with a bottle, fill it with water only. Milk, formula, juices, soda and breast milk all have sugar in them that can puddle around a sleeping baby’s teeth, causing tooth decay.

Protect your child's teeth with these 3 easy steps:

  • Brush two times a day with fluoride toothpaste. Use a thin smear of toothpaste for children under three years of age and a pea-size amount for kids over three years old.
  • Serve your child a healthy diet, and keep them away from sugary drinks and snacks.
  • Ask about fluoride varnish the next time you visit your child's doctor or dentist. Fluoride varnish can prevent or even reverse tooth decay.

What is Fluoride varnish?

Fluoride varnish is extra protection for your child's teeth. The application of fluoride just takes a few minutes for your child's doctor or dentist to apply. It is put on your child’s teeth with a soft brush. The varnish dries quickly and kids like the fruity taste. After the fluoride varnish is put on, follow your healthcare provider's instructions.

Kids who get at least four treatments of fluoride varnish before their fourth birthday are less likely to have cavities. Kids who get fluoride varnish at earlier ages benefit even more.

From the First Tooth is funded by a grant from the Sadie and Harry Davis Foundation, led and administered by MaineHealth, and implemented in partnership with EMHS and MaineGeneral Health.

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