What is the Best Age to Begin Dental Visits?

Parents are often unsure about when a child’s first dental visit should take place. Should you wait until they have all of their baby teeth or maybe not make that appointment unless there is a problem? The experts say neither. That first visit should happen much sooner, and it can accomplish some important things for your child. 

The Timing of Your Child’s First Dental Visit

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association, a child’s first visit to the dentist should take place within six months of the first tooth erupting in their mouth, or at least by the time they reach one year of age. But studies show that many parents are waiting much longer. 

Delta Dental surveyed a group of primary caregivers and found that 34% of children had not seen a dentist and, of those who had, the average age of the first visit was 2.6 years. The most frequently given reason (62%) for not going to the dentist was that the child is “too young.” Another Michigan Medicine national poll revealed that nearly half (47%) of parents believed the first dental visit should happen when children were ages 2 or 3, which is much older than recommended. 

Things to Know About Dental Care for Young Children

The CDC reports that dental disease remains one of the most common childhood chronic diseases. And it is preventable with the right oral hygiene and follow-up – which includes regular visits with a dentist. Some of the things you should know about early dental care for young children include:

Your pediatrician might address dental health. 

It’s not uncommon for a child’s physician to address basic oral care and hygiene issues. Some will even apply a protective fluoride varnish to a child’s teeth between 6-9 months. 

Early dental exams can prevent trouble. 

While a pediatrician is an excellent resource within the first 9 months, this is no substitute for your child’s first dentist visit. A dentist can provide preventative services and identify any signs of early decay. Believe it or not, the risks of dental disease begin with a child’s first tooth, so early dental care is vital. 

Exposure to the dentist builds comfort. 

Beyond having their teeth checked out, one of the benefits of taking your child to the dentist at a young age is that it builds familiarity and comfort. As a baby, most young children won’t know to be afraid of the dentist and can sit in a parent’s lap through a short exam. This makes subsequent visits seem more routine. 

Home dental care is essential. 

Your child’s teeth need to be brushed as soon as they emerge. They can begin using a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste in the morning and evening. As your child gets older, your dentist can continue to speak with them about positive oral hygiene. If you’d like to schedule your child’s first dental visit or have questions about your child’s oral care, give a call. You can contact us at Old Mt. Pleasant Dentistry for information or to schedule your next appointment.