When should a child first visit the dentist?
Establishing a Dental Home by Age 1
As a mother, I am often asked questions by other mothers regarding their child’s dental care. I don’t mind. I love talking about dentistry and dental care. What these questions have made me realize, however, is that there are a lot of moms with a lot of questions out there! I intend to use this blog to answer some of the most commonly asked questions. If you have questions please post them so that I can answer those too!
Before we start addressing specific dental questions though, I think we should start at the very beginning: When exactly should a child first start going to the dentist?
The short answer: Around the child’s first birthday.
The long answer: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association all recommend that parents establish a Dental Home for their child within six months of the first tooth erupting and no later than 12 months of age.
You may be saying to yourself, “What? I have always heard they should go to the dentist by age 3!” Well, that was the previous recommendation. This “new” recommendation was made in the 1990’s. So it’s been over 20 years since the “new” recommendation has come about. It’s not exactly new!
Why so early? Let’s face it, very few children under age 1 have dental problems that need intervention. However, almost all children are at risk for oral diseases. The first dental visit for a child is mainly for the parents. The goals at this first visit (and the subsequent visits after) are to get to know the parents and the child, allow the parents to get all of their questions answered, assess the child’s risk for tooth decay and other problems, provide early fluoride exposure, provide anticipatory guidance and decide on a recall schedule.
That sounds like a lot doesn’t it? It is worth the effort. Lee et. al. found that if a child’s first visit is by age 1, by age 5 only $262 will have been spent on filling procedures. On the other hand, if a child’s first visit is at age 4 an average of $547 will have been spent on filling procedures by age 5. It sure does pay off to have those early visits!
One final tip: Be sure to schedule the appointment at a time when the child is usually alert. Morning appointments tend to work well and so do appointments about an hour after nap time.
Are you looking for a dentist in the Farmington, CT area? We are always accepting new patients and we look forward to meeting you. Call us today at 860-676-2288 and we will help you become part of the Farmington Village Dental family.