Do kids really need to see the dentist by the time they turn one? It’s a common question that many parents have and the answer is an emphatic yes! The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Dental Association (ADA) both recommend that a child first see the dentist by the age of 12 months or within six months of the eruption of their first tooth. These first dental visits aren’t just about looking for cavities, but also about establishing our practice as your child’s dental home and laying the foundation for a lifetime of good oral health.
What Happens During a First Dental Visit
Since your little one is probably just starting to talk at the time of their first appointment, this visit is as much about you and it is about them. We’ll ask you questions about your child’s teeth, the foods they eat, their medical history, and any oral habits they might have. Your child’s dentist will talk to you about age-appropriate oral hygiene practices, provide instruction, and answer all of your questions about your child’s teeth and gums. You’ll be given all the tools you need to take care of your baby’s smile, including a toothbrush, floss, and fluoride toothpaste.
Not all children are able to tolerate a thorough dental exam and cleaning at this age, so we stay within their comfort zone to make sure their first experience at our office is a positive one. Ideally, during a first visit we will be able to examine each of the teeth, the jaw, and soft tissues, then gently remove any plaque that has accumulated. We apply topical fluoride once this is complete, which is important for keeping toddlers’ teeth free of tooth decay.
Your child will feel more and more comfortable with each visit to our office. Over time, they’ll learn that it’s a place full of fun and friendly faces. Once they appreciate the importance of good oral hygiene practices, they’ll also understand the role their dentist plays in keeping their teeth and gums healthy.
Why Dental Care Matters in the First Year
Children’s teeth are vulnerable to cavities in their toddler years, which is why regular dental care is important. When needed, we can provide painless, non-invasive interventions like sealants and extra fluoride treatments to prevent tooth decay and other oral health issues.
Without routine preventative dental care, your child is at a higher risk for tooth decay, infection, dental emergencies, and premature tooth loss. These dental issues can be painful and embarrassing for children, and they even have the potential to impact their overall health. Primary teeth play an important role in children’s development by helping them speak properly and eat nutritious foods. They deserve to be cared for the same way you would care for adult teeth.