When I first meet someone and they find out through the typical pleasantries that I am a pediatric dental hygienist, the first question I typically get goes something like this, “When should I take little Johnny to the dentist for the first time? My dentist told me they will start seeing children when they turn three years old.” My answer usually surprises people when I say we love to see children sometime within six months of the eruption of their first tooth, or no later than their first birthday. This visit primarily acts as a “well baby checkup” for your child’s teeth and mouth. It gives us an opportunity to meet your child, assess his or her oral hygiene, check for cavities or other dental anomalies, and also spend some time educating you on ways to ensure healthy teeth for your baby. Starting your children off early with happy dental visits is a great way to mold them into great dental patients as they grow into young adults. “What if my son is three years old and has never been to the dentist?” The answer is simple: There’s no time like the present!

Taking your children to see a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist will ensure that they are getting the specialized care they deserve. Infants, children, and teens often have different dental needs than adults do, and pediatric dentists attend postdoctoral schooling in order to specifically meet these needs. Pediatric dentists also specialize in treating patients with special needs. In my office, we have seen patients as young as four weeks old, and just last week I saw a patient while she was home on break from college.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is talking to interested parents about prevention. Here’s my highlight reel:

It all starts at the grocery store.  It’s no secret to most parents that sugars work hand in hand with plaque to create cavities (when combined they create an acid that causes decay). We all know it’s bad to pump our children full of candy and soda, but it’s often news to parents that juice rips through teeth as well. Most pediatricians will be quick to tell you that juice is too high in sugar to be good for your kids. Plaque doesn’t discriminate between sugar coming from candy or “100% natural juice”. Limit the sweets to mealtimes and you will effectively reduce the amount of time your child’s mouth is an acidic environment.

Fluoride is our friend.  Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that strengthens enamel, making it more resistant to the acids that cause decay. Using a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste (even on your infant’s newly erupted teeth) is safe and will decrease the likelihood of cavities. I recommend that Mom or Dad be responsible for administering the toothpaste until the kids are old enough to realize they don’t need two inches of paste on their brush! Another way we are exposed to fluoride is through drinking water. Most city water systems are fluoridated to the optimal level for that particular area, while bottled water typically has no fluoride.

Cavities are contagious. Adults (especially those with cavities) have higher levels of the cavity-causing bacteria in their mouths than babies and young children do. Because of this, it is important to avoid swapping spit with our kids. Do not share spoons, cups, straws, and the like with your youngsters.

You don’t have to brush and floss all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep.  Start habits early. Brush your baby’s teeth every night following their last food or drink and encourage your children to brush morning and night. It’s also important to floss at least a few nights per week in order to reach the plaque between the teeth that the toothbrush misses.

Sealants aren’t a sideshow at Sea World.  We will often recommend sealants for your children once their “6 year molars” erupt. Sealants are a protective coating we put in the deep grooves and pits of molars in order to “seal” out plaque and food, effectively reducing the risk of cavities on the chewing surface of these teeth. Unfortunately, there is no way to seal between the teeth, so it is still important to floss!

If you are looking for a great dental home for your family, or simply have questions about dental health, I work at an awesome office in Georgetown, TX. My bosses are a couple of caring (but sometimes goofy) guys that genuinely care about each and every kid they meet. Dr. Travis Hildebrand and Dr. Kenny Havard have been practicing in Georgetown since 2008 and also have a non-profit organization called Caring Smiles Foundation that is dedicated to establishing healthy smiles for all children. Our goal at Georgetown Pediatric Dentistry is to build meaningful relationships with our patients and provide them with a fun visit that they look forward to. For more information about us, visit http://www.georgetownpediatricdentistry.com/ or call our office at 512.869.4100.



  1. Janna, thank you for guest blogging!! I took Caroline to see Dr. Hildebrand and learned that she has some extra tissue between her front teeth that could cause extra bleeding should she bump her little mouth even though everything might be okay! Thank goodness I learned that or mama V would have freaked!!

  2. I am a hydrogeologist and one of my clients is Ozarka. I am the person who “hunts” for springs in East Texas for Ozarka to bottle and sell natural spring water. Not only does the spring water that Ozarka bottles contain natural fluoride, Ozarka also offers an 8oz. bottle with additional fluoride for children: http://www.ozarkawater.com/#/products/our_products/8ozfluoride/

    My 12 mo. old baby is only allowed to drink water and whole milk! No juice 😉 If she wants “100-percent natural juice” she will eat an apple or a some other fruit 🙂

    Thanks for the article Janna – I did not know it is recommended to take Kailey to the dentist at 12 mo.! I will do, thanks for the education 🙂


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