Most parents don’t think about it but germs that cause tooth decay can be in a baby’s mouth before the baby even has teeth—as early as 6 months of age. These germs can come from anyone in the family or a close caregiver. The baby can get germs from shared spoons, forks, cups, bottles, or toys.
Texas Health Steps tells parents of newborns to set up baby’s first dental checkup at 6 months old or as soon after that as possible. A checkup this early gives the dentist a chance to see if the baby is at risk for tooth decay (cavities) and set both baby and parents on a course for healthy habits for taking care of teeth and gums.
Baby’s first Texas Health Steps dental checkup will include:
- Talk about the family’s dental history.
- Check of the baby’s mouth—lifting the baby’s lips, looking at the soft tissues, looking for white spots, brown spots—any sign of decay or plaque on the teeth.
- Putting fluoride varnish on any teeth that are showing.
- Talk about the baby’s risk for tooth decay.
- Talk about why it’s good to get the child to start using a cup by the time they turn 1 year old.
- Talk about how drinks with sugar are not healthy and raise the risk for tooth decay.
- Show how to wipe the mouth of a baby with no teeth or brush when there are teeth.
- Talk about future checkups.
For children 2 years old or younger, a parent or guardian must stay with the child while the dentist does the dental checkup and any treatments.
Children should get dental checkups every 6 months starting with a baby’s first dental checkup at 6 months old.