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Take Care: When kids should have their first dental checkup

Dentists at Children’s Hospital Colorado tell 9NEWS many parents miss the guideline for their child’s first dental visit by two years.

AURORA, Colo. — Decades ago, taking care of baby teeth was not something most parents were told to worry about; however, doctors now know that decay can stay in a mouth even after those primary teeth fall out.

“Everybody that I can think of, every organization, recommends an age one dental visit,” Scott Hamilton with Children’s Hospital Colorado’s Pediatric Dental Clinic said. “There’s a lot of kids that come in on a third birthday and they have cavities on practically every tooth.”

The Children’s Hospital sees about 3,000 cases a year where kids are in the operating room because of decay in their teeth.

“We had one child not too long ago that was 14 months old,” Hamilton said. “[They] had 12 teeth in and we had to do six extractions and six crowns. Every tooth in the mouth.”

It’s a situation that can be avoided with an early dental check-up and general maintenance.

Teeth start coming in when a child is about six months old, and Hamilton recommends brushing right away, especially considering the amount of sugar in pretty much everything except water.

“Milk is generally a good choice for your child and breastfeeding is safe and healthy and a good choice, but anything that contains any sugar can affect the teeth.”

One of the main problems the clinic sees is kids going to sleep with bottles filled with juice or milk.

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“Unfortunately, it’s almost a science fair experiment with a kid’s teeth. If they fall asleep with a bottle that has something sugary in it, and they are able to drink that throughout the night, they have sugar on their teeth constantly.”

Spots on baby teeth are a bad sign, along with any pain or sensitivity your child may be feeling in his or her mouth.  

“[If you leave] primary teeth untreated, you’re at a much higher risk of having decay on your permanent teeth also.”

A dentist will show you how to brush your child’s teeth correctly and answer questions about thumb-sucking and fluoride during their first visit.  

For more information about the Children’s Hospital Pediatric Dental Clinic, click here.

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