A life of good dental health begins in childhood.

"We want to help children become good adult patients," says Dr. Elise Sarvas, a pediatric dentist at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. "Our goals are to help them learn how to care for their teeth and to help prevent problems before they happen."

Sarvas has answers to two common questions parents and caregivers ask about little kids and dental care.

When should kids go to the dentist for the first time?

"The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend having your first dental visit at the sign of the first tooth or at their first birthday. Whichever comes first," says Sarvas. "At that visit, we'll not only show you how to clean teeth, especially on a on a wiggly one-year-old, but also we'll talk about healthy foods for teeth, how to prevent trauma in teeth and what to expect moving forward with growth and development."

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What foods cause cavities?

"The bacteria that cause cavities love carbohydrates in any form," says Sarvas. "The bacteria take sugar, whether it's a cupcake or whether it's something we don't think of as traditionally sweet, such as Goldfish crackers, and turns those carbs into an acid. So I tell kids those bacteria actually poop out acid on your teeth."

Sarvas says that the acid can erode tooth enamel, causing cavities. Lemons and soda are naturally acidic and may also erode enamel.

If you have concerns about your child's teeth, contact your dentist or healthcare provider.

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