Between David After Dentist and Baby Before Brushing: When Should You Take Your Baby to the Dentist?

When should you take your baby to the dentist? PLUS: Green Living Tip of the Week

Dear Mama Greenest,

Is it time to take my son to the dentist yet? He’s 16 months. And what should I start thinking about on a holistic level when choosing a dental practice? (In other words, is it like choosing a pediatrician?)

When I asked my dentist this same question while pregnant, he told me not to worry about bringing her until she was around four. But the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends scheduling a visit as soon as your little one cuts his first tooth, and no later than his first birthday (the AAP and American Dental Association also make this recommendation). I personally don’t see what a dentist can really do in the mouth of a squirmy baby or young toddler, so I think it makes more sense to wait until they’re a little older and can actually be examined. But pediatric dentists, like pediatricians, have extensive additional training in handling the mouths (and behavior) of our tiny humans, so that may be the way to go if you’re inclined to get your son in, stat.

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There are holistic dentists out there, too. According to the Holistic Dental Network, holistic dentistry is “whole person care of the mouth” using non-toxic materials and some natural methods. The biggest concerns with traditional dentistry are the use of toxic metals, like mercury, in fillings and such; and things like fluoride, which is believed to cause cancer. If you can’t find a holistic dentist near you (or just want to take your son to the same one you use), you should feel comfortable to ask about their treatment protocol for children — from x-rays to fillings — so that you know exactly what he’d be exposed to.

Green Living Tip of the Week:
Since we’re on the topic of teeth: Conventional toothpastes contain everything from petroleum dyes to sodium lauryl sulfate (the same stuff that makes shampoo foamy), as well as artificial flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives. So ditch the Colgate and try a natural toothpaste, like the organic aloe vera ones from Gardiner-based company Kiss My Face (I’ve used it for years and it’s great). For the baby teeth in the house, try Earth’s Best toddler toothpaste (for ages six months to three years) — it’s flavored, but sweetened naturally with Xylitol and doesn’t contain any preservatives or fluoride.

» Visit the Holistic Dental Network at
» Visit Kiss My Face in Gardiner, NY
» Read more from Mama Greenest, our green- and alternative-parenting and health blog
» Read more on Hudson Valley Health
» Read more on Hudson Valley Kids

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