LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — An expert on dental hygiene says a huge part of protecting your kids from cavities is cutting back on sugar and preventing the transmission of certain “bugs.”

According to Dr. Susan Maples, a Total Health Dentist, the mouth is home to around 700 different families of bacteria, or “bugs.”

Though some of those bugs humans live peacefully with, Maples says others are not so good for us.

“We tell our little kids that they eat sugar and pee on your teeth. The acid makes your buffer by releasing calcium on your teeth and causing tooth decay,” said Maples. So here’s the thing. If we never introduce those bugs to the mouth, they don’t grow there. Guess how we get those bugs? Saliva transmission.”

Dr. Maples says that if parents can prevent the transmission of saliva from six months to three and a half years old, parents can reduce their child’s cavity rate for the rest of their lives.

The question is, how can parents prevent spit transmission?

No wet, sloppy kisses, no tasting your child’s food to see if it’s too hot, no sharing cups or straws and no licking off their pacifier if it falls on the floor- just to name a few ways to reduce the possibility of cavities.

Additionally, parents can reduce their child’s sugar intake.

“We eat 22 to 60 teaspoons of sugar a day per person in the United States. Can you believe that? That is unbelievable,” said Maples. “The sugar feeds the bacteria that produce that acid, but it also allows the bacteria to flourish.”

Unsure of where to start with getting rid of the sugar?

Maples says you can start by getting rid of liquid sugar that you keep in the house, meaning juice, pop, sports drinks and energy drinks.

Is your kid big on yogurt? You may want to look for yogurt with less sugar, as more sugary yogurts can have as much sugar in them as a soda.

Want to learn what else you can cut out of your little one’s diet to help prevent cavities? Or a health issue is found in one in four children in the U.S.? Watch the video in the player above.