New parents often ask, “When should my child first see a dentist?”
The short answer is “first visit by first birthday,” or within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth. That’s the view of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Pediatricians agree. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children at risk of early childhood cavities visit a pediatric dentist by age one.
It is surprising to many new parents to have such an early dental visit. However, national studies show preschool- aged children are getting more cavities. More than 1 in 4 children in the United States has had at least one cavity by the age of 4. Many kids have cavities as early as two.
In your child’s first dental visit, we complete a knee-to-knee exam and cleaning. Your child sits comfortably in your lap while our experienced staff clean and examine their teeth to gauge tooth development and any early signs of decay. In this way we gently introduce them to the office setting in as comfortable manner as possible. It is not uncommon for your child to cry and not want their mouth open.
To prevent early childhood cavities, parents should investigate their child’s risk of developing cavities, and the variables involved. At their child’s first visit parents may learn how to manage diet, hygiene and fluoride to prevent future problems. We will facilitate a forum for parents to discuss:
- How to care for an infant’s or toddler’s mouth
- Proper use of fluoride
- Oral habits, including finger and thumb sucking
- Ways to prevent accidents which could damage the face and teeth
- Teething and milestones of development
- The link between diet and oral health
After this visit, the dentist will suggest a schedule of follow-up visits. In the past, dentists typically called for visits every six months. Now, the schedule may vary according to each child’s risk and needs.