South Dakota Parents: Get Your Baby to the Dentist by 1

On average, kids in South Dakota don’t visit the dentist until they are 3 years old. That’s 2 years too late.

Leading dentistry and health organizations recommend children see a dentist within six months of getting their first tooth or no later than age 1.

Visiting the dentist by age 1 helps parents learn to care for their child’s emerging teeth to avoid painful cavities and more expensive oral care later. The child and parent get to know the dentist and it helps the child become comfortable at the dentist’s office. It’s the dental version of a medical well-baby check.

But only 2.5% of children covered by Delta Dental of South Dakota visited the dentist by age 1.

A recent survey commissioned by Delta Dental of South Dakota found 64% of children in Sioux Falls families didn’t see a dentist until age 2 or later, and 42% of Sioux Falls families had not ever heard about taking their child to a dentist from health care or child care providers.

That’s why Delta Dental of South Dakota is partnering with oral and public health groups in South Dakota to educate parents on the benefits of taking their children to the dentist by age 1 and encourage them to schedule a visit.   The Dentist By 1 public service campaign began earlier this summer as a pilot project in Sioux Falls.

Thirty-two (32) Sioux Falls dentists, the USD Dental Hygiene School, and Falls Community Health Clinic are participating in the project, agreeing to see the youngest patients and preparing for common questions parents of young children may have.

Pediatricians and child care organizations in Sioux Falls were provided promotional flyers, brochures and posters about the importance of the early childhood dental visit and the list of the participating dentists.   The materials also offer tips on oral care for babies and what to expect during that first dentist visit. website offers all of these materials directly to parents and the public online. Public service ads are airing during morning children’s programming on South Dakota Public Television.

Visiting the dentist by age 1 is a good idea no matter where you live, and parents everywhere are encouraged to visit with their dentist about a visit for their baby. Tooth decay is nearly 100% preventable, but can develop any time after the first tooth. Good oral health habits should start at the youngest age.