When Should Children Have Their First Dental Check-up?

One of the most frequently asked questions for family dentists is when a child should have their first dental check-up. If you do any research on your own, you will find a myriad of answers.

Most pediatricians will tell parents to take their children in as soon as the first tooth appears. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says the same. However, this idea is often not appealing to parents for numerous reasons. For one, while seeing the dentist at six months may help desensitize children to dental visits, it could also do the opposite. Babies and young toddlers will most likely not understand why they are there, why they have to keep their mouths open, or even understand instructions to do so. In addition, most family dentists won’t see children under the age of two, which forces parents to send their children to potentially pricey pediatric dentists.

This is why a majority of dentists prefer their young patients to be at least two, if not three, at the time of their first dental visit.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. Children should be brought in as soon as signs of tooth decay or discolored teeth set in. Even though these teeth are baby teeth, they can dictate the health of the incoming permanent teeth. Parents should make a habit of checking their children’s teeth every day for this reason. It also helps prepare them for being told to keep their mouths open when they visit the dentist for the first time. If they won’t open their mouths for you, they definitely won’t for a stranger wearing a funny mask and holding strange dental tools.

If you ever have any questions about your child’s dental health, always, always ask your dentist. It never hurts to call your own family dentist about the best time for your child’s first dental visit or even your child’s pediatrician. Just remember, when in doubt, the earlier is usually the better.

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