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ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / ALINA KULBASNAIA

Waiting to take your infant to the dentist until they’ve got a full set of baby teeth to take care of? Don’t. Both the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) suggest you should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth emerges, and no later than your baby’s first birthday.

Going early also lets your little one get comfortable with the idea of regular checkups. The more familiar they become with the dentist, the less scary it’ll be.

Baby teeth might not seem so important, but according to the AAPD, these primary teeth help children speak clearly, chew naturally and form a path for permanent teeth to follow.

To take care of those teeth, brush them with a soft bristled toothbrush, one designed for infants, and make sure to get them in the habit of brushing at least once a day before bedtime, says the AAPD.

Here are tips from the ADA to prep for baby’s first visit:

  • Brush teeth before visits, or save snacks for after the exam.
  • Stay calm—if baby sees you nervous or freaking out, she’ll follow suit.
  • Ask about issues with teething, thumb-sucking or pacifiers.
  • Don’t schedule your visit during nap time!
  • Go when baby is most likely to be rested and calm.

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