When Should My Child First See a Dentist?

When Should My Child First See a Dentist?

Every parent wonders, “When Should My Child First See a Dentist?” The American Dental Association (ADA) says that a child’s first dental visit should be when they get their first tooth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) adds that it should be not later than the child’s first birthday.

Braces For Kids Morristown NJ

The Importance of Dental Care for Young Children

One of the most common childhood diseases is tooth decay. Untreated cavities (also called caries) may cause pain, infections, and other seemingly unrelated illnesses. Cavities can also lead to speaking, eating, and learning problems.

Poor oral health can cause a child to miss school, leading to lower grades. There are plenty of statistics available. In children aged 5 to 11 years old, approximately 1 out of 5 (20 percent) has an untreated cavity. From ages 12 to 17, the numbers lower to 1 in 7 (13 percent).

Additionally, children in low-income families have a higher likelihood (about 25 percent) of caries than those from higher-income families (about 11 percent). Other factors that increase a child’s potential for cavities are:

  • Special health care needs or medications
  • Diet consisting of sugary foods and drinks
  • Have braces or other orthodontic appliances
  • Family members have cavities

Good oral health habits started at an early age can assist your child in remaining cavity-free. The center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even offer coloring books to help children understand the importance of oral hygiene.

What to Expect at Your Child’s First Dental Visit

Your child will usually sprout their first tooth between six months and one year of age. It is recommended that children begin seeing a dentist regularly shortly after the first tooth or by the first birthday. There are several reasons to begin children early:

  • To form good oral care habits
  • Ensure that tooth growth progresses normally
  • Avoid cavities and other dental problems
  • Get children accustomed to regular dental checkups

Your child’s first dental visit will help your child feel comfortable. This visit normally lasts around 30 to 45 minutes. Some of the things to expect from the doctor are:

  • Examination of the teeth, gums, bite, jaws, and general growth and development
  • Gentle cleaning
  • Lessons on proper oral care

Most dentists will not take X-rays unless the visual examination gives them a reason for concern.

How to Prepare Your Child (And Yourself) for Their First Dental Visit

Preparing for a first dental visit will help your child become accustomed to the routine. It is normally best to schedule appointments as early in the day as possible. Children are more rested in the mornings.

If your child is a toddler or older child, explain what a dentist is and why this is important. Try to stay upbeat and positive. If you have dental anxiety, try not to convey these feelings to your child. As a parent, if you are calm, your child will remain calm also.

Be prepared to discuss your child’s medical and health history. Some factors, such as premature birth and jaundice can affect dental health.

During your appointment, the dentist may offer you information on a variety of topics including:

  • Infant feeding
  • Bottle feeding and tooth decay
  • Teething pain
  • Pacifiers, finger, and thumb sucking

If you have questions, please feel free to ask the doctor or technician. They are happy to share their knowledge with parents and to promote good oral care for children.