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Health Check: How soon should your child see a dentist?

Vivian Chu, a 2-year-old, had her first visit to a dentist just shy of her first birthday last year. (WJAR)

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends taking your child to a dentist by age one, or within six months after the first tooth erupts.

Vivian Chu, a 2-year-old, had her first visit just shy of her first birthday last year.

Her mother recalls that visit, as well as how the dental assistant made her daughter feel.

“She showed Viv what is in a dentist office. She didn’t come on too strong. She let Viv sit on the chair on my lap,” said Katy Chu, who is not only Vivian’s mom, but also the communications manager for RI Kids Count, which is the lead agency on the Teeth First initiative.

"Teeth First was established in 2011 and the goal of teeth first is it's an awareness campaign. It's to try to connect children and families to the dentist earlier," said Chu.

"We know that the earlier that children go to the dentist, the less likely they are to need restorative care.”

It's probably due to her early dental visits that little Vivian is comfortable with having her mom help her brush her teeth.

While Teeth First is well connected to community agencies and pediatricians, it wanted to better engage parents and families.

"So, working with Glad Works, which is a full service ad agency, we decided to come up with ‘Smilestones’ which is an online initiative,” Chu said. “It's a photo contest to try to hook families into sharing with us their healthy habits.”

Every week, between now and the end of June, one of the submitted photos will be chosen randomly and the family given a $50 gift card.

So, there's that. But there's more.

"If you don't have health insurance, we have a page that lists our safety net organizations here in Rhode Island,” Chu said. “We have some really great organizations.”

Click here to learn more.

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