After Chrissy Teigen posted a sweet video of daughter, Luna, 3, brushing a stuffed alligator’s teeth at the dentist during what Teigen captioned as Luna’s “first dentist appointment,” people shamed the model. The complaint? Children should visit the dentist much earlier than 3 years old.
“First?! They made us start at 6 months lol,” one mom chided.
“You need to take them as soon as they get teeth. Can’t believe that’s her first dentist appointment.”
Teigen, 33, responded: “Was waiting for this. U guys never fail me.”
While many criticized her, others came to her defense.
“I didn’t realize there were so many ladies that are pediatric dentists,” one woman wrote.
A follower of Teigen's and dentist, Dr. Mayuri Appareddy, of Kids 360 Pediatric Dentistry in Texas, chimed in.
“Certainly, I recommend that kiddos come in for their first visit 6 months after eruption of their first tooth or 12 months (whichever is sooner). HOWEVER, it is extremely common for kids to come in for their first visit at 3 or 4. Do not let anyone shame you,” she wrote. “Being a mom is the best job but also challenging.”
Dr. Chas Jensen, a dentist at Rogue River Family Dental in Rockford, Michigan, agrees. Dentists and pediatricians recommend that children first see a dentist after the first tooth pops out or by 12 months old. While one tooth might not seem important enough to warrant a visit to the dentist, Jensen said that appointment teaches children not to be scared of the dentist.
“By getting them started early we are desensitizing them to the dentist,” he told TODAY Parents. “A lot of times we’ll first see a child at 5 or 6 when they have a tooth ache or abscess with a primary tooth that is painful and needs to be removed.”
Then children associate the dentist with scary experiences that hurt and can develop a fear of going.
“The sooner we see a problem and can intervene the better it is going to be. There is less pain,” Jensen explained.
Dental care remains important for children of all ages. Even when children do not have teeth, parents should rub their gums with a washcloth to prevent plaque build-up and remove bacteria.
“The cleaner the mouth, the better it is going to be,” Jensen said.
When teeth develop, parents or children should brush them. Using a half of a pea dollop of toothpaste, children should brush their teeth for two minutes in a circular motion, just like adults. Children should use much less toothpaste than adults because they are less able to spit it all out and ingesting too much can cause upset tummies or cause pitted teeth. Jensen also says parents should floss their children’s teeth, no matter how challenging that might be.
“The most common cavities I see in (children) is from decay that happens between the teeth. The only way we can clean that space out is with flossing,” he said. “As soon as you can introduce flossing, the less decay.”