When Should My Child See the Dentist?

Young child at first dental visit
Kid’s first dental visit

First Dental Visit

Your child’s first dental visit should occur within six months of when their first tooth appears in the mouth and no later than their first birthday. This is far different than the old school recommendation of 3 years of age or when starting school. If you are being told this, it’s because the person telling you this isn’t up to speed on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s recommendations.

Establishing a dental home is very important. It is similar to establishing a medical home with your pediatrician. A dental home allows the dentist to follow your child’s dental care and custom tailor their treatment and advice to you and your child. It also establishes a relationship between the dentist and your child before problems start. This not only helps prevent problems, but also ensures that you have emergency access to your dentist much like having a pediatrician when your child gets ill.

Why So Early?

Your child’s dental health actually starts before the first dental visit. It starts with mom’s pre-natal dental care. Mom’s healthy mouth has actually been shown to prevent pre-term low birth weight babies. So baby’s first dental visit should ideally be when baby is just a glimmer in mommy and daddy’s eye! However, more frequently (and more practical too) it is a dental visit while mom is pregnant. Parents also pass on the bacteria in their mouth to their child. Therefore parents with poor teeth tend to infect their children with the bad bacteria that cause tooth problems, thus making their child more likely to have tooth problems too.

Early visits to the dentist also gives parents the tools to deal with issues such as erupting teeth, painful breast feeding, bad breath, mouth and lip sores, and thrush, to name a few. It also helps prevent tooth decay or cavities, the most common infectious disease in children. Preventing cavities is always better than treating cavities.

Dental Emergencies

Sometimes you need a dentist because your child is having an emergency. Emergencies include toothaches, facial and/or oral swelling, broken teeth, knocked out teeth, or even suddenly not wanting to eat (which can be a sign of dental pain). When these things occur, it is always easier to get into the dentist when you have a dental home. At Coastal Pediatric Dental & Anesthesia, we are available to our established patients 24/7, every day of the year.

When You Notice Something Different About Your Child’s Teeth?

Parents are often very observant when it comes to their children. Moms and Dads sometimes start to notice little white spots on teeth or new “stains”. More often than not, these aren’t harmless stains or spots, but actually the start of new cavities. When caught early, these cavities can easily be stopped, sometimes without even the need for “drilling and filling.” When caught at this phase, good oral hygiene and fluoride can actually reverse the damage. When cavities are small, they may even be arrested with silver diamine fluoride without the need for drilling.

If you, as a concerned parent, have questions or notice changes in your child’s teeth, please don’t hesitate to call us. We would rather be able to give you the good news that your child doesn’t have a cavity than to wait until the tooth hurts or to give you the bad news that a tooth needs to be removed.

Need a Dental Appointment for Your Child?

Contact Coastal Pediatric Dental & Anesthesia today at 757-963-0001 to schedule your appointment. Better yet, make Coastal your dental home.