Your Child’s First Dentist Visit
When is the right time to take children for their first dentist visit? Many parents still believe children should wait until age four or older to have their first dentist visit. However, children should really see the dentist much earlier.
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association say children should start dental visits around age one when baby teeth emerge.
According to Stephanie Goodson, M.D., a pediatrician at University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, a first dentist visit “…should take place by their first birthday, or six months after the first tooth becomes visible — whichever is earlier.” The University of Michigan Health Blog first shared her comments.
Why start so young?
A first dental visit by around age one accomplishes a number of important goals, according to researchers. For one, it helps to educate parents about some key oral health issues, such as the following:
- The correct way to brush teeth
- The need to limit sugary drinks and snacks
- Not putting kids to bed with a bottle
An earlier first dental visit also helps kids get used to dentists. It helps them learn to manage their dental anxiety. And it lays the groundwork for a lifelong commitment to oral health.
Children’s Oral Health
A recent study found that U.S. kids have fewer cavities today than they had a few years ago.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), kids had far fewer cavities in 2015-2016 than kids had four years earlier. The researchers report a decline in total caries prevalence from 2011 to 2016, from 50.0% to 43.1%.
In addition, untreated caries prevalence is on a downward trend. The CDC found that, for untreated caries, although the prevalence increased from 16.1% in 2011–2012 to 18.0% in 2013–2014, it then decreased to 13.0% in 2015–2016.
Nevertheless, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cavities remain the number one chronic disease among 6-19 year-olds.
An ounce of prevention…
Benjamin Franklin famously stated, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Dentists know that, when it comes to preventive dentistry, Franklin was on the money.
Prevention is cost effective. Research shows an early first dentist visit can help prevent future oral health problems. On the other hand, waiting for children to have a first dentist visit after age three can mean higher dental costs later in life.
Cavities in baby teeth may not seem like a big deal. After all, some people reason, they are just going to fall out eventually. However, scientific evidence backs the health benefits of taking kids to the dentist at an early age.
Read next: Why Generation Z Might Go On to Have the Healthiest Teeth to Date