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

Another significant concern is early childhood caries (tooth decay or cavities). Babies and young children who nap or sleep at night with a bottle containing anything but plain water are at risk of developing tooth decay. Even liquids that are good for the baby, 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 tospeak clearly and smile with confidence. Children 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.