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When Should a Child Start Going to the Dentist?

Team Sedation Dentistry

There’s a lot of debate about when children should start seeing the dentist, but the American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and American Academy of Pediatrics are clear: all three of these organizations recommend that children first see the dentist by the age of 12 months or within six months of the eruption of their first tooth. Below, we explain why these early dental visits are recommended and what you can expect from them.

Why Early Dental Visits Matter

Believe it or not, tooth decay is among the most common chronic childhood diseases in the United States. Toddlers are particularly susceptible when it comes to getting cavities, especially if they don’t see the dentist regularly. Studies show that children who don’t see the dentist by their first year are more likely to need restorative dental care and have higher dental costs compared to children who start seeing the dentist early.

With routine dental visits, Dr. Levitt is better able to monitor your child’s dental health and keep their teeth healthy. Oral health issues can be identified in their early stages, before they progress to becoming serious problems. Additionally, these visits help establish our practice as your child’s dental home, a term that describes the relationship between you, your child, and their pediatric dentist. We want your child to view our office as a place where they feel secure and safe, rather than seeing dental visits as a source of anxiety.

What Happens During a First Dental Visit

Many parents wonder about the need for dental visits at the age of one year because they view these visits through the lens of their own dental care. What can a dentist even do for a one-year-old who only has two teeth? It couldn’t possibly take more than a minute or two to clean them!

Early dental visits are about getting your child used to visiting our office and discussing good oral hygiene practices with you, so these appointments look very different from those of adults or even older children. We certainly don’t expect toddlers to sit still for an hour in the dentist’s chair!

During your child’s first visit with us, you can hold them on your lap while Dr. Levitt examines their mouth to count their teeth and determine if there are any signs of decay. If your child is cooperative, we may do a gentle cleaning to remove plaque from the teeth that have erupted, but we want to ensure that their first visit with us is a positive one, so if we can’t do this the first time around, we’ll try the next time. Dr. Levitt will also perform a head and neck examination and, if needed, digital radiographs will be taken. Finally, your child will receive a fluoride treatment to keep their teeth strong and prevent tooth decay.

What Happens During a First Dental Visit

After your child’s first visit, they can begin seeing Dr. Levitt every six months for comprehensive oral evaluations and dental cleanings, which is one of the most effective tools we have to ensure good dental health. During each visit, your child will become more comfortable with our team and understand what to expect at their appointments. 

Schedule Your Child’s First Dental Visit

If your child has never been to the dentist, contact us today at 203-775-2225 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Levitt.