Is it too early to take you child to the dentist? - KMSP-TV

FOX 5 Medical Team

Is it too early to take you child to the dentist?

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ATLANTA -

When it comes to introducing your kid to the dentist, Dr. Jason Eaglin with Eaglin Dental Group says you want to start early, somewhere between your child's first tooth, and first birthday.

Dr. Eaglin says, "It's very important to get the kids in for that initial appointment. At that time we can see if their brushing and flossing habits are correct."

That first appointment helps your child get comfortable, and you get educated on important habits, like flossing. That's where a lot of parents get tripped up.

Dr. Eaglin says, "The majority of parents don't understand that the purpose of flossing is to get any food in between the teeth. Because that can cause children to have cavities at a young age. So, even though they're baby teeth, we definitely need to floss the teeth as soon as possible.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends kids come in for a routine dental check-up every six months.

And Dr. Eaglin, a family dentist, says baby teeth are important because they hold the place of a child's permanent teeth - that usually grow in between the ages of 6 and 12.

He recommends kids brush twice a day, for two minutes. He says brushing for 15 seconds won't cut it.

To get your child excited about brushing, try investing in a mechanical child's toothbrush. Dr. Eaglin says, "What we try to do is focus on definitely brushing in the morning, and definitely flossing and brushing before they go to bed because we don't want plaque to sit on the teeth and turn to decay."

Avoid putting your child to bed with a "sippy" cup of juice or milk because they contain sugar and can cause cavities.

Instead, fill that cup with water.

Dr. Eaglin says the best thing you can do for your child's smile is to show him or her how to take care of it. He says, "It is super important because if they can get that habit at a very young age, they'll have it for the rest of their lives."

What about pacifiers and thumb-sucking? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says pacifiers and thumb-sucking usually don't cause long term problems unless they continue for a long period of time. Most kids will stop on their own. But if your child is still sucking on fingers at the age of three, you may want to talk to your dentist.

As your child's permanent teeth come in, the dentist may suggest applying a dental sealant to protect the teeth from decay.

It's a good idea to start talking to your doctor about orthodontia by the time your child is about 7 or 8. He or she can make sure your child's jaw development and tooth placement are on track.

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