At What Age Should My Child First Go to the Dentist?

Child Brushing TeethAs a new parent, I thought it would be helpful to share with everyone some important dates to help get your children off to the right start with their teeth, particularly when kids should have their first visit to the dentist.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends seeing the pediatric dentist as early as 6 months, 6 months after the first tooth erupts, and no later than 12 months of age.

The reason the AAPD recommends getting a head start on oral health is because the path towards a healthy mouth often begins even before the first tooth appears in the mouth. You might find this timeline for the establishment of the oral bacterial environment helpful as well: Early Oral Health Timeline

Their goal is to help parents establish a "dental home" by 12 months of age
 

What is a Dental Home?

What a dental home entails, is as follows:

  • Comprehensive oral health care including acute care and preventive services in accordance with AAPD periodicity schedules
     
  • Comprehensive assessment for oral diseases and conditions
     
  • Individualized preventive dental health program based upon a caries-risk assessment and a periodontal disease risk assessment
     
  • Anticipatory guidance about growth and development issues (ie, teething, digit or pacifier habits)
     
  • Plan for acute dental trauma
     
  • Information about proper care of the child’s teeth and gingivae. This would include the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease of the supporting and surrounding tissues and  the  maintenance of health, function, and esthetics of those structures and tissue
     
  • Dietary counseling
     
  • Referrals to dental specialists when care cannot directly be provided within the dental home
     
  • Education regarding future referral to a dentist knowledgeable and comfortable with adult oral health issues for continuing oral health care; referral at an age determined by patient, parent, and pediatric dentist.

About the author

Scott Frey is a reknown Orthodontist, professional speaker, and founder of the More than Smiles Movement. Follow him on Twitter.

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