a child smiles in a dental chair

Why a Visit to the Dentist in Early Childhood is Important

Team Pediatric Dentistry

Dental care is important for people of all ages, from children to older adults. Going to the dentist is especially important for children, though, as early checkups with a pediatric dentist can prevent cavities and tooth decay. Most parents want the best dental care possible for their children, but many may wonder what age a child should be to go to the dentist.

Why a Visit to the Dentist in Early Childhood is Important

A child’s first visit to the dentist lays the foundation for their life-long dental health. This first visit provides dentists with an opportunity to examine the child’s mouth and detect early signs of oral health problems. It also gives dentists a chance to talk to parents about caring for their children’s teeth and provide tips on ways children can remain cavity-free.

During this first visit, the dentist may help parents address a number of oral health issues, such as:

  • Finger or thumb sucking
  • Teething
  • The health of a child’s first tooth
  • Dietary issues that could be affecting the child’s oral health
  • Development of the child’s gums and jawline
  • Care for an infant or toddler’s teeth and gums

A Child Should Go to the Dentist Before Their First Birthday

Babies grow and change quickly, especially in the first year of life, and many of these changes can affect a child’s dental health. Children begin teething at about three months of age, and their first tooth generally push through the gumline when they are between four and seven months old.

Children should make their first visit to the dentist before they are 12 months old, or as soon as their first tooth comes in.

What happens during a child’s first visit to the dentist?

A child’s first dental visit typically lasts 30 to 45 minutes. Depending on the child’s age, the dentist may perform a full exam of the child’s teeth, jaws, gums, bite and oral tissues; this information helps the dentist assess the growth and development of the child’s oral cavity. The dentist may do a gentle cleaning to remove any plaque, tarter or stains.

A child’s dentist may show parents and children how to brush and floss teeth. The dentist may sometimes recommend fluoride treatments to reduce a child’s risk for tooth decay and cavities, especially if the child’s main source of water is not fluoridated. Dentists rarely order dental x-rays at this first visit, as young children should not have dental x-rays unless it is absolutely necessary.

For more information on the age a child should go to the dentist for the first time, consult with a dental professional. Your dentist can also give you information on when a child should have their second visit to the dentist.

Learn More About You Child’s First Dental Visit

If you’d like to discuss your child’s first dental visit with your dentist, contact us today at 856-783-3777 to schedule an appointment.