Dentist By 1: When Should Your Child First Visit the Dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children should go to the dentist within six months of getting their first tooth – and no later than their first birthday.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that
children should go to the dentist within six months of getting their
first tooth – and no later than their first birthday.

Most American children don’t see their family dentist until they are well over 2 years old, which is far later than dental and medical professionals recommend. The ideal time for a child’s first dentist appointment is by age 1, or within six months after the first primary teeth erupt.

Benefits of an Early Dental Visit

A visit by age 1 may seem young, but it lets you and your child develop a relationship with a dentist, which can help set a foundation for good oral health. If you begin taking your children to the dentist around the time the first tooth erupts, then they are probably too young to be nervous. But if you’ve waited until your child is older, then he or she may have some anxiety at the time of the first visit.

This time frame is also a perfect opportunity for the dentist to carefully examine the development of your child’s mouth. Dental problems often start early, so the sooner the visit the better.

Tooth decay in infants and young children most often begins in the upper front teeth, but also may affect other teeth. Parents may not realize that a baby’s teeth can decay soon after they first appear – a problem frequently referred to as “baby bottle tooth decay,” which is caused by long-term exposure of a child’s teeth to liquids containing sugars and acids. The decay may even enter the underlying bone structure, which can hurt development of the permanent teeth.

To safeguard against problems such as baby bottle tooth decay, teething irritations, gum disease and prolonged thumb-sucking, your dentist can provide or recommend special preventive care.

The First Dental Visit

The first dental visit is simple and really acts as a well-baby checkup for your child’s teeth and mouth. It typically includes an examination for normal growth and development, checking for cavities and educating parents on good oral health care. This may include information about brushing and flossing, diet and nutrition, the use of fluoride and prevention of cavity-causing bacteria passing from parent to child.

Check Your Coverage and Enroll Your Child

Sign your child up for dental coverage at birth to ensure dental benefits are available in time for early screenings. With good nutrition, proper dental care at home and regularly scheduled oral health screenings, you can ensure your child has a healthy and happy smile that will last a lifetime!

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9 Responses to “Dentist By 1: When Should Your Child First Visit the Dentist?”

  1. Deanna R. Jones
    03/25/2015 at 12:05 pm #

    I agree, there seems to be many benefits to taking your child to the dentist at an early age. You made a very good point about the importance of giving a child the chance to develop a good relationship with a dentist. Taking a nervous child to their first dental appointment when they’re a bit older can make future dental appointments more difficult. Making appointments for your child with the dentist at a very early age can not only ensure that they’ll feel more comfortable about seeing the dentist as they grow older, but it can also help to prevent any future tooth developmental problems that may happen in the future.

  2. Virginia Davis
    06/24/2015 at 1:41 pm #

    Thanks for the information. I had heard that it is good to have my child visit the dentist by the age of 1, but I didn’t really know what the benefits were. My cousin had problems with tooth decay when she was four, I think. I wonder if an early visit to the dentist could have prevented that. What kind of preventative care is there for baby bottle tooth decay?

    • Caroline Cole →
      06/24/2015 at 2:52 pm #

      Decay is commonly found in the upper front teeth. While each child may experience decay differently, signs may include white spots or brown areas on the teeth.
      Do not allow your child to go to bed with a bottle filled with anything but water. Follow the appropriate oral health routine for your child’s age. Wipe your baby’s gums after each feeding. When your child’s first tooth appears, it’s time to begin brushing. Clean and massage gums in areas that remain toothless, and begin flossing when all the baby teeth have erupted, usually by age 2 or 2.5. These tips should help eliminate tooth decay!

  3. Lillian Schaeffer
    01/21/2016 at 4:17 pm #

    This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that having your child visit the dentist at age one can help set a foundation for good health. My son is ten months old now, and I didn’t realize that it was almost time for his first visit! I’ll definitely look into getting him in to the dentist around his first birthday so I can start a foundation of good health for him. Thanks for the great post!

  4. Judy Wilson
    03/14/2016 at 12:16 pm #

    My child is almost one years old, so it seems like I should start learning about the benefits of taking him for his first dentist appointment soon. You’re right about how important it is for my child to develop an early relationship with a dentist. That would help him to not only set a foundation for good oral health, but also help ease any anxieties associated with going in for appointments.

    • Caroline Jacobson →
      03/21/2016 at 10:30 am #

      Great to hear this article inspired you to schedule your son’s first dentist appointment. It’s wonderful that you are being proactive in your son’s oral health 🙂

  5. Dr. Douglas Barker
    10/28/2016 at 4:05 am #

    I will recommend take your child to the dental clinic before and after his/her first dental visit, so he don’t feel fear of dentist to visit next or first time to the dentist.

  6. Jade Brunet
    04/10/2017 at 1:42 pm #

    I appreciate this information about when your child should first visit the dentist. It is good to learn that the first dental visit is simple and acts as a well-baby checkup for your child’s teeth and mouth. It would also be beneficial to find out about your dentist’s thoughts about fluoride.

    • Caroline Jacobson →
      04/12/2017 at 3:38 pm #

      Happy to hear you found the article helpful, Jade!

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