This Quarter’s Theme: Babies and A Dental Home

New Tooth Talk Video Helps You Explain Importance of Baby’s First Visit to the Dentist

Did you know…

According to a 2014 scientific paper, a preventive visit to the dentist before age 3 was found to be beneficial for high-risk kids and may be associated with reduced treatment and expense in the future? That’s a message that really speaks to parents!

The first dental visit is mostly educational for parents. The dentist will counsel the parents about nutrition, weaning from the bottle to a sippy cup, the proper technique of tooth-brushing, the importance of fluoride, the problems tooth pain can cause to a baby’s growth and development and other topics that foster a child’s healthy smile.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatrics all recommend a dental home for babies at age 1. Encourage your parents to include this “well baby check-up” for their child’s beautiful, healthy teeth.

For more information about the importance of that first visit to the dentist, click on the short video “Why Babies Need a Dental Home.”

To see other Tooth Talk videos, click on the Videos tab in the menu at the top of the page.


This Quarter’s Theme: Babies and A Dental Home

Tooth Talk Spotlights a Resource You Can Use From Sesame Street

Healthy Teeth Healthy Megrover_sesameworkshop is the Sesame Workshop’s newest oral health initiative, using the much loved Sesame Street characters to motivate children ages 2 to 5, their parents and caregivers to start oral health care early–including that first visit to the dentist!

This excellent bilingual program includes fun online videos and songs, a user-friendly guide for families with tools to reinforce oral health routines and even a helpful guide for health practitioners to foster partnerships with families.

We just love this engaging site and think caregivers and parents will enjoy it as much as the kids. Children too young to participate? That’s OK. Visit the site and share the great messages. So, grab those kids and Brushy Brush with Elmo!


This Quarter’s Theme: Babies and A Dental Home

Tooth Talk Tips You Can Share with Parents: Getting Baby to That First Dentist Visit

Wondering why the parents in your program may be resisting taking their child to the dentist? It can be a hassle. Plus, there can be a lot of fear–most of it the parent’s! Dental care is the most prevalent unmet health need of children in the United States. You can help! Here are good tips you can share with the parents in your program to make baby’s first visit to the dentist easier.

  • Sooner is better. Advise parents to take their child to the dentist as a baby, starting by age 1. Not only is it recommended but also babies fuss less than small children and will get used to it faster.
  • Suggest to parents they start good dental health practices at home early, so baby is used to having someone looking in the mouth. Some experts recommend wiping newborns’ gums gently with a clean cloth. Then move to a child’s toothbrush with a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste once the first tooth comes in.
  • Be ready for fussing. It’s natural. A dental office that sees young children will know how to manage that.
  • Last, parents may be more frightened of the dentist than babies. Counsel your parents to relax. Children and babies can sense when parents are worried and scared. Remind them that good dental care is an important developmental milestone, as important as well-baby visits, check-ups and vaccinations.


This Quarter’s Theme: The Importance of Baby Teeth

Tooth Talk Expert Answers Question of the Month About the Importance of Baby Teeth

Question: Often, parents don’t seem to realize that baby teeth are important. What can I tell them?

According to Dr. Jessica Lee, DDS, MPH, PhD, Demeritt Distinguished Professor and Graduate Program Director, Department of Pediatric Dentistry at University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, this is a very common question. And, yes, baby teeth matter!

 “Baby teeth are important as kids grow and hit those vital developmental milestones at ages 1, 2 and 3. To meet those milestones, children must have good nutrition and be able to eat, which begins with healthy teeth. Without good dental health, overall good health is compromised. Teeth are not superficial but are directly tied to the body’s health. Kids need healthy baby teeth for adequate growth and development. Hurting baby teeth affect school readiness and quality of life. Studies show that children with large cavities and pain in their baby teeth fail to thrive. When teeth hurt, kids can’t eat, they can’t learn and concentrate at school and at play. Poor dental health is one of the top reasons for kids missing and performing poorly in school. The American Journal of Public Health reported that kids in dental pain got more Cs and Ds in school than As and Bs. And, because babies and toddlers may not be able to say what’s bothering them, it’s hard for a parent to know that it’s a hurting tooth.

 “Baby teeth are integral to child development; babies explore with their mouths, but, when they have pain, they can’t do that. Remind parents to take care of those baby teeth by brushing them with a small child’s toothbrush with a smear of fluoride toothpaste.  Most parents start brushing their child’s teeth when there are a lot of them, around age 2 or 3. I recommend brushing sooner, when kids are babies. It’s easier to start the habit then because babies want to put the brush in their mouths. And, just as pediatric visits are important, it’s smart to get children to the dentist and start charting those key developmental milestones as well.” 

Have a question? Our special section Ask the Expert: Question of the Month features a panel of experts ready to answer your questions about children’s dental health. Each month, Tooth Talk will choose a question and our expert will answer it here on the site and in the weekly email.

Submit your question anonymously to Ask The Expert: Question of the Month by clicking here.