Starting regular dental check-ups at a young age is important for your child’s oral health, but many parents aren’t sure when these routine dental visits should begin. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what age a child should start going to the dentist and what you can expect during their first dental visit.
When to Bring Your Child for Their First Dental Visit
In the past, it was common for parents to wait until children reached their preschool years before taking them to the dentist, but the current recommendation from the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry is that children start seeing the dentist within six months of the eruption of their first tooth, or by their first birthday.
Waiting until your child is a toddler to bring him or her to the dentist can make the difference between good oral health and the need for extensive dental work. Teeth are particularly vulnerable to decay during these early years and it can occur quickly, with few visible signs that parents can identify.
When you bring your child to the dentist for their first visit, we’ll assess the condition of their teeth and give you the knowledge you need to take care of their smile. Just as important, it establishes our practice as your child’s dental home—a familiar place full of friendly faces, where they feel comfortable and safe.
What Happens During a First Dental Visit
Before your child’s examination begins, we’ll sit with you and your child to review their medical and dental history. Although some pediatric dental practices discourage parents from accompanying their children for their exam, we welcome moms and dads because it gives us the opportunity to discuss our findings and treatment options with you as we are working with your child. We also find that the experience of a first dental visit is much less stressful for toddlers when their parents are in the room with them.
Our office is adhering to CDC guidelines for Covid-19 so at this time we ask that one parent accompanies the child to their first visit. This will give you an opportunity to meet our clinical team and see first hand how we interact with your child. It will also give you an opportunity to ask questions and discuss our findings.
During a first dental visit, we want to get to know your child and help them feel at ease in our office; we work at a pace they’re comfortable with and respond to their verbal and non-verbal cues. We conduct a thorough head and neck examination, then evaluate the health of the teeth and gums. If needed, we will take digital radiographs to view the teeth below the gum line. Assuming your child is comfortable, we will gently clean their teeth. Fluoride is applied to strengthen the enamel and prevent cavities.
Frequency of Pediatric Dental Visits
After your child’s first visit with us, we’ll schedule their next appointment in six months. Just like adults, children should see the dentist twice a year for optimal oral health. Regular dental visits allow us to catch tooth decay in its earliest stages and provide treatments like dental cleanings and fluoride to prevent the formation of cavities.