What Age Should a Child Go to the Dentist?

Team Pediatric Dentistry

While most parents realize that regular dental check-ups should begin at a young age,there is some confusion about when?  Is it at one's first birthday, when starting pre-school, when the first baby teeth erupts, or when the permanent teeth have come in? The answer is usually sooner as there is a lot to learn from your first dental visit.

Below, we’ll share the right age for children to start going to the dentist and what you can expect during their first dental visit.

When to Bring Your Child for Their First Dental Visit

It used to be common for parents to wait until their children were in preschool or kindergarten before taking them to the dentist, but the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry now recommend that children begin seeing the dentist within six months of the eruption of their first tooth, or by their first birthday.

Delaying visits to the dentist until your child is in preschool can be the difference between good oral health and needing extensive dental work. During these early years, teeth are particularly vulnerable to decay, which can happen fast and with few obvious signs that parents are aware of.

When you bring your child to the dentist for the first time, we will examine their mouth and provide you with the information you need to care for their teeth and gums. This first visit is also the first step to establishing our practice as your child's dental home, a familiar place with friendly faces where they feel comfortable, safe, and know exactly what to expect.

What Happens During a First Dental Visit

We'll go over your child’s medical and dental history, and ask you if you have any concerns about your child’s oral health. Depending on your child’s temperament, we may ask you to hold them on your lap through the entire appointment or have them sit in our examination chair.

We want to get to know your child and make them feel at ease in our office during their first dental visit, so we work at their pace and pay attention to both their verbal and nonverbal cues. Dr. Jessica performs a complete head and neck evaluation along with assessing the teeth and gums. If necessary, digital radiographs will be taken to view the teeth below the gum line. When a child is comfortable and ready, we can gently clean their teeth; otherwise, Dr. Jessica will simply count the teeth and look for any areas of concern. As a final step, topical fluoride is applied to prevent cavities by strengthening the enamel.  We review how to care for your child’s teeth at home, discuss how foods and drinks can affect children’s teeth, and other oral health guidelines.

Choices that we make at home with our young children affect their lifelong oral health.

Frequency of Pediatric Dental Visits

We'll schedule your child's next appointment six months after their first visit with us. Children, like adults, should visit the dentist twice a year to maintain good oral health. Regular appointments allow us to diagnose tooth decay in its early stages when it’s easiest to treat and prevent cavities with dental cleanings and fluoride.

Schedule Your Child’s First Dental Visit

If your child has never been to the dentist, there’s no better time to get started! Contact us today at 202-545-7200 to schedule an appointment at Capital Kids Dentistry.