By Jenifer Dorsey
New parents know the importance of well-child visits, which start as early as a few days old. These pediatric exams track developmental milestones and continue every couple of months through infancy and every year or two into childhood. Because overall health depends on oral health, checking in with a pediatric dentist early should also be part of your baby’s early preventive health care.
A child’s first visit to the dentist should occur sometime between when his or her first tooth erupts, which is as early as 6 months old, and his or her first birthday, according to the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
These early dentist appointments are similar to early doctor appointments. The dentist will perform an oral health risk assessment to look for tooth decay, specifically baby bottle tooth decay, which is found in infants and toddlers, and evaluate the gums and mouth. The dentist will also discuss proper oral care and address parents’ concerns. These visits can be a good time to ask questions related to pacifier use, diet and its impact on oral health, brushing techniques throughout development, when to start using toothpaste and fluoride, etc.
Baby teeth may be temporary, but keeping them healthy is important. Establishing a preventive dentistry routine from the onset is key. In addition to making sure everything oral health–related is on track and in good heath, introducing kids to the dentist early on can help establish comfort and trust.
For more information about pediatric oral health milestones, click here for a children’s dental timeline.
Jenifer Dorsey is a freelance writer whose specialties include health insurance, health and wellness, fitness and recreation. She is a competitive amateur track cyclist who also enjoys mountain biking, hiking, camping and other outdoor adventures. Jenifer received a B.A. in journalism from Columbia College Chicago and is an MFA candidate at Naropa University. She lives in Colorado.