Ask the Doctor

Question #16:

When should my baby start seeing a dentist?


Windy Mason-Leslie, MD, of CHKD Health System’s Pediatric Associates says, “ Proper care of a child’s baby teeth is very important, as these teeth hold space for future permanent teeth. If a baby tooth decays or is removed too early, the space is lost and can be regained only through orthodontic treatment. Infected baby teeth can cause the permanent teeth to develop improperly, resulting in stains, pits and weaker teeth. With this in mind, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your child begin seeing a dentist 6 months after the first tooth comes in, then twice a year thereafter from age 2. Caring for baby teeth begins much earlier, with daily rinsing after meals, avoiding feedings in the crib and limiting juice to one cup a day with meals. A soft toothbrush can be used to clean the teeth and mouth after meals and at bedtime. Consult your pediatrician about when to add a tiny amount of fluoridated toothpaste. This is usually around the age of 24 months when the child can spit the toothpaste out.”

All Questions

  1. My newborn seems to need something to suck on when she’s not eating. Her mouth is in constant motion. Is it OK to give her a pacifier?
  2. What’s an appropriate amount of television for a toddler to watch each day? I’m worried that my grandson is watching too much TV.
  3. Can weight lifting help overweight kids?
  4. My 8-year-old still sucks his thumb. I hate to pressure him to stop and don’t want to shame him, so what should I do?
  5. My teenage son received a paintball gun for his birthday, and I’m reluctant to let him play with it. Are paintball guns safe?
  6. I’m wondering when my child will be old enough to move from the crib to a single bed. Any guidelines I should know?
  7. Help! My teen keeps talking about getting her tongue pierced. What can I tell her to discourage her?
  8. My grandson was born with jaundice. Can you tell me what causes it and whether it’s serious?
  9. My 2-year-old can’t seem to get into a schedule of meals. She’s hardly ever hungry when it’s time for a meal, but other times she wants to eat all day long. I worry that her eating is too erratic and not healthy.
  10. Is it normal for my baby to hiccup a lot?
  11. What should I know about impetigo if my neighbor’s child has it and frequently plays with my child?
  12. My mother says that my 10-month-old daughter should wear hard-soled shoes to learn to walk. When should I start buying shoes for my baby, and what types are best?
  13. My child complains about sores in her mouth and our doctor says she has canker sores. What causes them?
  14. My teenage daughter thinks she’s fat, but she’s normal height and weight for her age. Should I be concerned she has an eating disorder?
  15. My teenage daughter has been told that cramps and nausea she gets after drinking milk or eating cheese or ice cream are due to lactose intolerance. Can you develop such a problem as you get older?
  16. When should my baby start seeing a dentist?