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When should my child first see a dentist?

The short answer is “First visit by first birthday.” To prevent early childhood cavities, parents first have to find out their child’s risk of developing cavities. They also need to learn how to manage diet, hygiene to prevent problems.

The age 1 dental visit lets parents discuss:

  • How to care for an infant’s or toddler’s mouth
  • Proper use of toothpaste
  • Oral habits, including finger and thumb sucking
  • Growth and development of child’s teeth
  • The link between diet and oral health

After this first visit, the dentist will suggest a schedule of follow-up visits. In the past, dentists typically called for visits every six months. Now, the schedule may vary according to each child’s needs and risks. As your child grows, the dental team can help you learn how to prevent common oral problem

The first dental visit is usually short and involves very little treatment. This visit gives your child an opportunity to meet the dentist in a non-threatening and friendly way. Some dentists may ask the parent to sit in the dental chair and hold their child during the examination. Sometimes the parent may also be asked to wait in the reception area during part of the visit so that a relationship can be built between your child and your dentist.

During the examination, your dentist will check all of your child’s existing teeth for decay, examine your child’s bite, and look for any potential problems with the gums, jaw, and oral tissues. If indicated, the dentist or hygienist will clean any teeth and assess the need for fluoride. He or she will also educate parents about oral health care basics for children and discuss dental developmental issues and answer any questions.

Topics your dentist may discuss with you might include:

  • Good oral hygiene practices for your and gums, and cavity prevention
  • Oral habits (thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, lip sucking)
  • Developmental milestones
  • Teething
  • Proper nutrition

Arrange dental checkups. Many dentists like to see children every six months to build up the child’s comfort and confidence level in visiting the dentist, to monitor the development of the teeth, and promptly treat any developing problems.

You will be asked to complete medical and health information forms concerning the child during the first visit. Come prepared with the necessary information