young child at dental appointment

What Age Should a Child Go To the Dentist?

Team Pediatric Dentistry

When you ask friends and family when you should start taking your child to the dentist, you'll likely get a wide range of responses. Even some dentists and pediatricians are divided on the subject! Fortunately, the American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and the American Academy of Pediatrics all agree that a child should see a dentist by their first birthday or within six months of the eruption of their first tooth. We agree with this recommendation too!

Why Early Dental Visits Matter

Dental caries (cavities) are one of the most common chronic childhood diseases in the United States, and they can affect even the youngest kids. Children who have not seen a dentist by the age of one have greater overall dental costs and are more likely to require restorative dental care throughout their childhood.

Routine dental appointments beginning with the eruption of the first tooth or by 12 months, allow us to maintain your child's oral health and diagnose potential problems before they become more serious and harder to treat. 

Regular visits also help establish our office as your child's dental home. This term refers to the trusting relationship that exists between you, your child, and the team at our dental practice. We want you to feel comfortable approaching us with any concerns you may have about your child’s oral health, and we want your child to experience our office as a welcoming environment filled with familiar faces, rather than a source of dread or anxiety.

What Happens During a First Dental Visit

If you're worried about your one-year-old sitting through a long dental cleaning, don't be! The first visit is more about getting your child used to going to the dentist, discussing good oral hygiene practices with you so you can take care of your child’s smile, and making sure the teeth are coming in as they should.

Your child’s dentist will examine your child’s mouth while they sit on your lap, counting their teeth and identifying any cavities or other concerns. If your child is cooperative, we may perform a gentle dental cleaning. If not, no worries—we want their first visit with us to be a positive experience, so rather than forcing the issue, we’ll try again during their next appointment! 

We will perform a head and neck exam, and if there are any areas of concern, digital radiographs may be ordered. Finally, a fluoride treatment will be given to your little one to strengthen their tooth enamel and prevent cavities.

Frequency of Pediatric Dental Visits

We will schedule another dental check-up in six months before you leave our office. Children, like adults, need to visit the dentist twice a year to maintain good oral health. They'll become more familiar with what happens during a dental appointment and get to know our team better with each subsequent visit. 

Your child will have a lowered risk of tooth decay with regular dental checkups, a balanced diet, and good oral hygiene habits at home.

Schedule Your Child’s First Dental Visit

If your child has never been to the dentist and you’d like to make an appointment, contact us today.