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The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children see a pediatric dentist every six months for regular teeth cleanings and checkups in order to prevent oral health issues.

But everybody knows that children don’t like to go to the dentist. And since kids are having dental work done at much younger ages nowadays, some dentists are just as terrified to work with these little humans.

Approximately one in five Americans has at least one or more untreated dental cavities right now, and unfortunately that number includes many children. Thanks to some parenting issues and increased access to sugary snacks, kids are starting to develop problems with their teeth at a much younger age.

In fact, children can start getting cavities as soon as their very first tooth comes in. According to Oral Health, children start teething after six months of being born, which is immediately when their regular visits to the dentists should begin.

Dr. Simon Reeves, a dentist and parent who focuses on proper oral hygiene, is frequently asked by other parents when they should bring their children to the dentist.

“As soon as possible or as soon as the first tooth comes through the gums,” Dr. Reeves said.

The Sacramento Bee reports that to many dentists, operating on children who are 20 months old seems far too young, but it’s actually on the later side.

“People think that children are afraid of dentists, but really it’s that dentists are afraid of children,” said Pamela Alston, dentist and director of the Eastmont Wellness Center in Oakland.

In order to narrow the gap in infant dental care, new programs will have to be implemented to help train dentists on how to properly deal with these fragile patients. Roughly 70 dentists will learn over the next three years how to persuade infest into cooperating during dental exams, in addition to helping parents protect their children’s teeth against plaque and cavities.

It’s up to parents to help their children fight off these painful cavities and keep their teeth healthy and strong. Roughly 90% of U.S. homes regularly indulge in a delicious ice cream snack, which is fine, but if that becomes more common, everyone inside the household — especially the young children — will be at risk of major dental issues.

Here are some great tips to keep in mind as a parent when protecting your young kids’ teeth:

  1. Avoid all those sugary snacks — From the time your child is an infant until they grow up and move out, you should never give them too much candy or sugary treats. Although having a piece of candy here or there is fine in moderation, but don’t make it a habit.
  2. Help them brush every single tooth — Help you children brush their front teeth and their back ones, too. When your child grows up to become a toddler, he or she will likely brush their front teeth but neglect the back ones — don’t let that happen.
  3. Make the dentist fun — Hopefully your family dentist will actually help you out in this department. Your child will never want to go to the dentist if they are boring, scary, and harmful. Find ways to have fun on the trip to and from the dentist so your child will learn to love these regular trips.

Don’t wait until your child already has dental issues to visit the dentist. As soon as the adorable first tooth comes in, call the family dentist!