Pediatric Dentistry: When Should My Child Visit a Dentist?

Like adults, children of all ages require regular dentistry to maintain the look, health, and function of their teeth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that every child visit with a dentist by the time they turn 1 years old, or within six months of the eruption of his or her first tooth. Bringing your child for regular dental visits from an early age can result in a lifetime of healthy oral care habits.

First visits to a dentist are not only about examining your child’s teeth and gums, but also to get the child used to being in the dentist chair. During these early visits, parents can also pickup critical information and advice on how to properly care for their children’s baby teeth as they develop. Although baby teeth do eventually fall out, they should be well cared for as they save space for your child’s permanent teeth.

Preparing your child for his or her first trip to the dentist should be a calm process so that your child is excited, not scared. Talk about the procedures with your child so that there are no surprises, and discuss what type of behavior you expect. Be sure to bring along everything you need for your first visit, including your child’s complete medical records and insurance card.

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The first visit with your child’s pediatric dentist will likely be brief. During this visit, your child will have the opportunity to meet his or her dentist and become comfortable with the environment. It’s best to schedule your child’s visit early in the day when he or she is most alert and refreshed from a good night’s sleep. During this first visit, you can expect for the following to occur:

  • Examination of the teeth, gums, jaw, oral tissues, and bite.
  • Gentle cleaning, which includes removing plaque and stains, as well as polishing the teeth.
  • Possible dental x-rays.
  • Demonstration and/or advice on proper home cleaning.
  • Assessment of your child’s need for fluoride.

During this visit, be sure to discuss with your child’s pediatric dentist about any questions or concerns you may have. Just like adults, children should visit a dentist every six months. Some pediatric dentists may recommend visits every three months for young children with moderate to severe dental anxiety.

Practicing good oral hygiene habits at home is key to managing your child’s dental health. For more information about pediatric dentistry, contact your child’s pediatric dentist.