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Dental Experts Remind Parents, Toddlers Need to Visit Dentist by Age 1

While toddlers may only have a few teeth, experts say they need to be seen by a dentist within the first year of life. Dr. Paul Casamassimo, chief of Dentistry, explains that taking a proactive approach to infant oral care can make a difference that will last a life time. Watch as he provides some helpful information for parents and says that having tooth decay in baby teeth could affect a toddler's permanent teeth. Courtesy of Nationwide Children’s Hospital

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-With her daughter, Ellie, Jane Able has always stressed good dental hygiene. Unlike millions of other moms, made sure her child saw a dentist by the age of 3. But if she waits that long with her son, she may be waiting 2 years too long. Revised Guidelines say, kids should make their 1st trip to the dentist in their 1st year of life. -Going to the dentist is not top of mind. You think about vaccinations and well visits and getting the proper nutrition and learning all about that. So, yes. This is surprising news. -But even with those first few teeth, dentists say they can tell a lot about their child's future. By the time they go to school, 1 in 4 kids already has cavities and, by the time they're teens, that number doubles. -The child experiences tooth decay in their baby teeth that they're more likely to have tooth decay in their permanent teeth. So, it begins a process that's really difficult to stop. -Paul Casamassimo is the Chief of Dentistry of Nationwide Children's Hospital, home to one of the first and few dental clinics in the country that also serves babies. He says, even a small cavity in the 1st tooth can create lasting problems. So, the earlier a visit happens, the better. So, Casamassimo, who is also with Ohio State University, offers these tips for taking care of a toddler's teeth. First, move a 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. -Confine intake of sugar to meal time 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 the day. -Taking just a few simple steps as they get their 1st few teeth can make a difference that will last a lifetime. At Nationwide Children's Hospital, this is Clark Powell reporting. -Good job.