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First Oral Health Checkup by First Birthday

Tooth Decay is Preventable!

Tooth decay is preventable with a healthy diet and good daily oral care. But that is not enough. Your baby also needs an oral screening by their first birthday. Ask your family’s dentist or your baby’s doctor to check his or her teeth.

What Can You Expect in an Infant Oral Screening?

  • The dentist or doctor will look for signs of early tooth decay and assess whether or not your child is at risk for decay. Early decay can look like white spots—usually along the gums. Brown or black spots may be cavities.
  • The provider may have you place your child on your lap, facing you. He or she will then have you lay your child back with your baby’s head in the provider’s lap. This will allow you to make eye contact with your little one and reassure them during the exam.
  • The provider will share tips on caring for your child’s baby teeth and healthy snacking.
  • During the visit, your child may also get a fluoride varnish application to prevent or reverse early tooth decay.

Getting the Most out of the Oral Health Checkup

  • Talk with the doctor or dentist about your baby’s diet and eating and snacking habits.
  • Ask if you are brushing your baby’s teeth correctly.
  • Discuss whether your child needs fluoride. If your water does not contain fluoride, drops or tablets may be recommended. Your child may also benefit from a fluoride varnish.
  • Share any concerns or questions about your child’s oral health. Is he at high risk for tooth decay? What can you do to lessen the risk?

Need Help Finding a Dentist?

Visit to find information about dental care resources in your community and about signing your child up for dental benefits through Delta Dental of Washington. Delta Dental of Washington will pay dentists or doctors for delivering early oral health screenings to enrolled infants and toddlers. Click here to learn more about accessing dental care.


“I see babies every day for well-child visits and talk with parents about ways to keep their babies healthy. Moms are sometimes surprised to hear me talk about the importance of preventing tooth decay at such an early age. Yet, good oral health is critical for a child’s overall health.”

Dr. Russell, doctor, Yakima, Wa