It seems like every pediatrician or dentist has a different answer to the question: what age should my child’s first dental visit be? Some practitioners recommend seeing children for a first visit at the age of three while most pediatric dentists would like to start a relationship with their patients and families at a much younger age. The official statement by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists is that a child should be seen for a first dental visit no later than the age of 12 months, but preferably as early as the first tooth erupts. A recent article endorsed by the American Dental Association further recommends that children should be seen by the dentist a soon as their first tooth is seen in the mouth.
Dental disease is 100% preventable! This means that if parents are presented with and follow management guidelines for their child’s diet and oral health, cavities and gum disease can be completely avoided. There are two key elements to this prevention: parents must be made aware of recommendations and they must implement them at home. We know from personal experience that it’s much easier to start a routine and stick to it rather than to change one that is already in place (especially if the ones already in place include juice, candy and irregular brushing). This means that parents must be privy to important guidelines and recommendations as early as possible to guide their kids toward healthy oral habits.
A lot of parents also tell us that they end up waiting to bring their children in because they don’t want them to cry or be “upset” by a first visit. This is totally understandable, BUT, there is no evidence that indicates a child will have increased fears or anxieties associated with the dentist if they are brought at a younger age. As a matter of fact, often times, the opposite is true. The younger one brings their child for a visit, the easier it becomes for the child to adapt to future dental appointments. Sure, your child may cry and wiggle around a little, but he may also cry and wriggle when you change his diaper. As the parent, you know that this easy and painless appointment is in his best interest!
Check out these articles for more information on the topic!News-Gazette.com – The right age for a child’s first dental visit Aapd.org – FAQs