Dear Dr. Diesburg,
I have a 2-year-old whose baby teeth have all come in. When should I take her in for her first visit to the dentist?
Mom in McMinnville
Hi Mom in McMinnville,
The American Dental Association recommends bringing babies in for a knee-to-knee exam as soon as the first tooth erupts, but no later than the first birthday. This is especially important for first-time parents and if you have specific questions and concerns. If we see the beginnings of cavities on the front teeth at that point it is still possible to change habits and identify problem areas before that process causes real cavities in the back teeth, ones that would need intervention (fillings). Babies should have a yearly checkup until 3. If there are no problems at yearly checkups until three, they should then come in a every 6 months thereafter.
Childrens teeth are smaller than adult teeth, so smaller cavities can develop quickly into problems. Kids tend to ignore tooth pain until it is serious. Waiting until you hear from them is not a good idea. Also, if a child gets the idea that the dentist is a place where they come and have someone look in their mouths then they get a little toy rather than the place the come when the teeth start to hurt and they have to stay very still it can be a much more positive beginning to a great oral health. The dentist’s office is also a great place to reinforce the habits you are introducing at home. Kids often feel good about brushing their teeth when their dentist or hygienist has talked to them personally.
Dr. Adam Diesburg, McMinnville Dentist
Ask Dr. D is a a web series where Dr. Diesburg answers the dental care questions he fields most often from his patients. If you would like to ask Dr. Diesburg a question about any aspect of dental care, you can email him at adiesburgdds [at] gmail.com