Does Your Baby Need a Dentist? by Dr. Marilyn Sandor, DDS, MS

Caring for a baby’s dental health may start earlier than you think! The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that babies see the dentist for the first time, six months after the first tooth erupts, or no later than their first birthday. This policy is supported by both the American Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry, because, more than 21% of American children between the ages of 2 and 5 have cavities, but children who visit the dentist by their first birthday may be less likely to have tooth decay than children who wait until they’re older. In fact, research suggests that, for each year past a child’s first birthday parents delay booking that first dental appointment, the child’s chances of getting tooth decay nearly doubles.

How can an early consultation with a dentist help reduce the risk of cavities in children?
An early consultation with a pediatric dentist can immediately reduce the risk of cavities, because as they say, “knowing is half the battle.” The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recognizes that perinatal and infant oral health are the foundations upon which preventive education and dental care must be built to enhance the opportunity for a child to have a lifetime free from preventable oral disease.

What is special about this time?
For parents, this is the time they really start preparing for the new baby’s arrival and it is the perfect time to start thinking about dental health. For oral health providers, it is the period of time where parents are receptive to receiving information that can help their children avoid preventable dental concerns.

Topics such as how parents’ own dental health can affect their baby’s dental health are discussed at this time. Other topics may
• Baby bottle tooth decay • Infant feeding practices
• Mouth cleaning • Teething
• Pacifier habits • Finger-sucking habits
• Pregnancy and the prenatal period

Who should a parent consult for advice?
Parents should research the professionals in their area, who have experience with babies. Pediatric dentists fall into this niche.
Pediatric dentists have an additional two to three years of special training after dental school and are prepared to treat children of all shapes and sizes from itty bitty infants to growing teens.

How do you set up a visit?
In person or via a virtual visit, with GoodCheckup, your pediatric dentist is only a phone call away! American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Perinatal and infant oral health care. The Reference Manual of Pediatric Dentistry. Chicago, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry; 2021:262-6.

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