Here at Harte Dental, we follow the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association to schedule children for their first dental visit when the first tooth appears. If your child has still not started teething by their first birthday, we recommend to go ahead and schedule the first visit around the time of the first birthday.
Why so early? And what can parents expect from this first visit? Read on to find out more.
Establishing a Dental Home
A major reason pediatricians and dentists recommend the first visit before age one is to establish a "dental home." By bringing a child in before anything has gone wrong, parents can ensure that in the event that something does go wrong, they already have an established relationship with an office. On our end, it's also hugely helpful to meet your child and understand what "normal" looks like for them so that if any dental problems arise, we're able to quickly diagnose and treat them.
Helping Kids Get Comfortable
Childhood dental experiences play an outsized role in shaping overall perceptions and feelings about dental care. Unfortunately, too many children visit the dentist for the first time when they are already in pain and requiring treatment, and sadly many of these kids will go on to associate the dentist with fear and trauma for the rest of their lives.
The first few dental visits for an infant or toddler, our goal is not to do much in terms of treatment. Rather, we seek to help kids gradually get used to coming to the dentist, to see it as a healthy and even fun routine in their lives--a place where they can enjoy themselves, where people will not hurt them, and where they may even pick up a prize or two! Later, if these patients do need treatment, they are much less likely to be apprehensive about receiving needed care.
Screening for and Preventing Decay
Did you know that teeth can get cavities as soon as they're in the mouth? Certain types of feeding behaviors can put infants at higher risk to develop early childhood caries (ECC), an extremely aggressive form of decay seen in young children. By seeing infants when the first tooth erupts, we hope to help parents develop good habits with their babies to prevent ECC. We also apply fluoride varnish to baby teeth to keep them cavity-free.
It's never too late!
Even if you have children at home who are older than 1 year old and have not yet had their first dental visit, it's never too late! Call and make an appointment today to get them on track to a healthy mouth for life.