Regular dental visits are an important part of a child’s dental and oral health. Teeth cleanings and oral examinations should be scheduled every 6 months to maintain the health of the teeth and mouth. But when should dental visits begin for children? Find out at what age a child should go to the dentist and why it matters.
Age One First Dental Visit
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children see a dentist by their first birthday or within 6 months of the eruption of their first tooth. This may seem early, but there are many reasons why early dental care is important. In the past it was more common for children to wait until they were 3 or older, but recent studies have shown that professional dental care should begin in infancy.
Benefits of Early Dental Care
There are many benefits of early dental care for children:
- Improved dental and oral health. Dental cleanings and oral exams help to prevent tooth decay and gum disease that can occur at any age.
- Reduced dental anxiety. When children get used to the experience of going to the dentist from a young age, they are less likely to develop dental anxiety.
- Lifelong dental and oral health. Early dental care establishes a positive foundation for a lifetime of dental and oral health.
- Early detection of health concerns. If there are dental or oral health concerns, early detection allows for easier and more effective treatment.
What To Expect From the First Dental Visit
The first dental appointment for a young child will typically include the following:
- Meet the dentist and dental team. Both the parent and child will meet the dentist and the dental team during the first visit. Parents will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss their child’s dental health.
- Brief oral examination. We will look over your child’s teeth and mouth to assess the current health and identify any potential concerns.
- Teeth cleaning. If the child is comfortable enough, we may perform a brief dental cleaning.
- Fluoride treatment. A fluoride varnish can be applied to any visible teeth to help the enamel harden and be more resistant to decay.
The main goal of the first visit is to introduce the concept of dental care in a positive, relaxing environment to establish comfort. We make the first visit light-hearted and fun. You are welcome to stay with your child for the entire visit, even holding them on your lap during the appointment.
Tips for Oral Hygiene in Infancy
Daily oral hygiene is important in infancy, even before teeth are present.
- Clean your baby’s gums with a clean cloth or a soft-bristled infant toothbrush to prevent gum disease.
- Brush each tooth after it erupts with a tiny dab of infant toothpaste with fluoride to prevent decay.
- Avoid putting your baby to sleep with a bottle or cup. The sugar remains on their teeth overnight and may cause decay.
- Clean your baby’s teeth after their last feeding before laying them down to sleep for the night.
- Do not give infants anything to drink besides breastmilk, formula, or water. Sugary beverages like juice increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Schedule Your Child’s First Appointment Today
If your child is at least a year old or has their first birthday coming up, it is time for their first dental appointment.
Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment at one of our 2 convenient locations.