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A Child's First Visit to the Dentist

Early exams and preventive care protect your child's smile now and in the future.

When Should My Child See the Dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that your child's first visit coincide with when the first tooth comes in, usually between six and twelve months of age. To make a child's first visit a positive experience, schedule the appointment for a time when your child is most often well rested and relaxed. Treat the appointment as routine and bring along a favorite toy or blanket.

What is a Dentist Looking For?

A dentist can check for tooth decay, assess your child's oral growth and development and evaluate the potential effect of any harmful habits, such as thumb-sucking. They can also teach you how to properly clean your child's teeth.

Another significant concern is early childhood caries also known as baby bottle tooth decay. This disease occurs with babies and young children who fall asleep with a bottle containing anything but plain water. The habit puts them at risk of developing tooth decay. Even liquids that are good for them, such as milk, formula, and fruit juices, all contain natural sugars that can promote decay. Starting at birth, clean your baby's gums with a soft cloth or gauze pad after each feeding. Encourage your child to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday.

What Are the Benefits to Early Oral Health Care?

  • Children with healthy teeth chew food easily, learn to speak clearly and smile with confidence.
  • Those who start visiting the dentist at a young age are more likely tobe less anxious during regular checkups.
  • Regular dental visits in childhood can also provide a foundation for a lifetime appreciation of taking care of their oral health.

Help keep your child's smile healthy and beautiful. Start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits.

Why So Early?

  • Professional evaluation, intervention and treatment by a dentist are important components of maintaining good oral health.
  • According to the AAPD, the most important reason is to begin a thorough prevention program because dental problems can begin early.
  • The dentist will recommend the frequency of your child's follow-up visits, depending upon their individual needs.
  • Children, who are at an increased risk of tooth decay, typically, have unusual growth patterns or have poor oral hygiene and may need more frequent visits.

Note: The information in this document is not meant to replace the advice of your dentist or another licensed healthcare professional. Talk to your dentist for any specific dental advice.