Does my baby need to go to the dentist? Teeth & Tooth Care

iStock.com/leungchopan

baby with teeth
iStock.com/leungchopan

Some parents take their baby to the dentist as soon as her first tooth appears, but some moms prefer to wait until their child is more mature. These expert and mom tips can help you decide when to take your child.

Not Unless You Think There's an Issue

"A child should start visiting the dentist as soon as he gets his first tooth. When you realize that your baby is beginning to teethe, this is a great time to introduce a baby toothbrush into the child's mouth. Brushing stimulates blood flow in the gums to help soothe them and gets the child used to this process. The sooner you start, the easier it will be for your child to get into the habit of brushing his or her teeth." -- April Patterson, DDS, owner of Dr. Patty's Dental Boutique and Spa, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Yes -- Starting at 12 Months

"The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children visit the dentist at 12 months and every six months after. The dentist can watch for any malformations of the mouth or any other problems, since they typically don't do deep cleanings or X-rays until age 3. My 3-year-old will go for his fifth visit in June!"

Follow the Guidelines and Go

"We follow the recommendation to go by 12 months of age -- sooner if the teeth have erupted. I know a few family dentists who say waiting until three or four years of age is fine, but I disagree. There are some things that can be found early on and taken care of before it's an issue."

That First Visit Is Important!

"Dentists like to use the 12-month appointment to assess your child's overall dental health and determine any risks for decay and cavities. Look at this appointment as a great opportunity to ask questions and get information. This visit is often much more for the parent than the child!"

Waiting Is Okay If Your Dentist Says So

"My dentist said to start taking my child at age 3, since dental visits at an earlier age can be traumatic. Although, at my age, the dentist's chair is still traumatic for me!"

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.