When Should Your Baby First See a Dentist?

You’ve just noticed your child’s first tooth poking out of her bottom gums. Does that mean it’s time to take her to the dentist? Probably. Here's why.

By Reader's Digest Editors

You’ve just noticed your child’s first tooth poking out of her bottom gums. Does that mean it’s time to take her to the dentist?

Probably.

Not everyone agrees on the best time for your child’s first trip to the dentist. But the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that the first dental visit take place when the child’s first tooth appears, usually between six months and one year of age.

The first dental visit is usually very simple, consisting of an examination for normal growth and development, a check for cavities, and plenty of education for the family on cavity prevention.

This includes information about diet and nutrition, use of fluoridated toothpaste, and preventing bacteria that cause cavities passing from parent to child. Fluoride varnish may be applied to the teeth to prevent cavities.

At this visit, the dentist will explain proper brushing and flossing techniques (you need to floss once your baby has two teeth that touch) and conduct a modified exam while your baby sits on your lap.

These initial visits also help your child get to know the dentist, so she won’t be afraid of going when she gets older.

Often, X-rays and cleaning are delayed until the child is older.

It’s important to start seeing a dentist even for baby teeth, say dentists. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also help to create a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt. Cavities in baby teeth can also sometimes affect the development of the permanent teeth.

Don’t forget that your baby needs more than dental visits to have a healthy mouth. Brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day, avoid sugary drinks or juice, don’t use bottles right before bed, and feed your baby healthy foods without added sugar.

See also: Secrets From Your Dentist

Sources: CNN, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Familydoctor.org, kidshealth.org, National Institutes of Health

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