Teeth First! Teeth First!

How I Help Keep Precious Little Smiles Healthy: A Pediatrician’s Mission

Written by: Patricia Flanagan, M.D.

As a pediatrician, very little cheers me up more than a bubbly, giggly toddler grin.  It makes my day every time!

That precious little smile is so very important, too. Not only is it a sign of physical health, social-emotional and developmental well-being, but it’s also a sign of oral health and a reminder of the importance of early dental care. That’s why I make sure that I address caring for teeth during every well baby visit. 

When talking to parents, I stress that caring for teeth even before they erupt is a practice that can lay the foundation for good lifelong oral health.  I promote breastfeeding and the early introduction of a cup rather than a bottle, and I stress the importance of avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages and nighttime milk bottles. I make sure parents understand that these are critical practices for healthy smiles.

Another way that I promote healthy smiles is by applying fluoride varnish right in my office. It requires no dental equipment and can be applied by my staff in just a few minutes.  It can help protect little teeth from decay when applied at least once a year in addition to regularly wiping gums and brushing baby’s teeth at home.

But all of that isn’t quite enough.  Even though as a pediatrician I am the first line of defense against dental disease, I also talk to parents about having a dental home for their child. I think of dental health as a team effort.  When health care providers and parents team up with a dentist, we can all work together to keep those happy little smiles healthy.

TeethFirst! Creating healthy smiles for a lifetime.