How soon you should schedule your baby's first dentist appt

Parents, here's another thing to put on your checklist for the New Year. The sooner you take your baby to the dentist, the better.

Brushing teeth is a habit little Ellie learned early. Like many other moms, Jane Abel made sure her daughter saw a dentist by age 3.

But if she waits that long with her son, she may be waiting too long.

New guidelines say kids should see the dentist in their first year of life.  

Even with those first few teeth, dentists say they can tell a lot about your kid's future.

By the time they go to school, one in four kids already has cavities and by the time they're teens, that number doubles.

Dr. Paul Casamassimo, with Ohio's Nationwide Children's Hospital says, "If a child experiences tooth decay in their baby teeth, they're more likely to have tooth decay in their permanent teeth. So, it begins a process that's very difficult to stop."

Dr. Casamassimo says even a small cavity in the first tooth can create lasting problems.

So the earlier a visit happens, the better.

Here are some tips for taking care of your toddler's teeth. First, try to get your baby off the bottle as soon as possible.

Brush their teeth early and often to get them used to the idea. And never give your child sweetened drinks to pacify them.

Dr. Casamassimo says, "Confine intake of sugar to mealtime and not let a child have access to a bottle with sugar in it or even a sippy cup with some kind of sugared liquid in it throughout the course of a day."

Once cavities form they can be very difficult and expensive to stop. If your family dentist doesn't see babies, try finding a pediatric dentist.

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