The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) suggests that parents should make an initial appointment to have their child’s first “well-baby” checkup with a dentist approximately six months after the emergence of the first tooth, or no later than the child’s first birthday.
Although this may seem surprisingly early, the incidence of tooth decay in babies, toddlers, and children has been rising in more recent years. Tooth decay and early cavities can be very destructive and painful which can cause damage to the surrounding tissue, bone and developing adult teeth too.
A baby is at risk for tooth decay as soon as the first tooth emerges. During the first visit to the dentist a discussion on oral health, hygiene and diet should occur. In particular babies that drink breast milk, juice, formula, soda, or sweetened water from a baby bottle or sippy cup are at high risk for early childhood cavities. The bacteria that cause cavities are contagious and can be transmitted from adults to babies so it is best that parents do not share any eating utensils, or cups or clean pacifiers in their own mouths. It is best to brush the baby teeth after each meal and to rinse teeth after drinking beverages other than water. Also implementing some form of Xylitol toothpaste has shown great results to minimize the risk of tooth decay in babies, infants, and children.