Does my baby need to go to the dentist?
Real Mom Problem
“I have a two year old and a nine month old. Neither one has been to the dentist. When is the best age to do this, and what should we expect?”
- 1. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends taking your baby to the dentist whenever the first tooth appears, and no later than baby's first birthday
- 2. Taking your baby to the dentist can help instill good oral hygiene habits
- 3. At early visits, the dentist will assess your child's overall dental health and risk of tooth decay and cavities
Real Mom Solutions
Moms are divided on when the best time to take a baby to the dentist is. Some follow the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and take their babies when their first teeth appear. Others prefer to wait till their children are more mature, around the age of three or so. Check out these moms' tips to help you decide when to make your baby's first dental appointment.
It's Time to Go
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends kids be seen at 12 months and every six months from there on out. It is to get kids used to the dentist and to watch for any malformations of the mouth or any other problems, since they don't do deep cleanings or x-rays or anything until three unless very necessary. My son will go to his fifth visit in June (he will be 3). He does very well. No fears at all.
We follow the recommendation to go by one year of age or sooner if the teeth have erupted. It's not uncommon for non-pediatric dentists to ignore these recommendations. I know a lot of family dentists who say three or four years of age...this goes AGAINST the recommendation of the AAPD. There are some things that can be found early on and taken care of before it's more of an issue. It also can help the child get ready for dental care if something more is needed as they get older.
My daughter is nine months and we are taking her for her first appointment next week. She has four top teeth, two bottom, and a molar. I just want to make sure everything is coming along as it should.
It's Ok to Wait
I know it's "recommended" to start at 12 months but we don't have dental insurance for the kids because the premiums are more than the cleanings out-of-pocket and, personally, I just don't think it's necessary unless you think there may be an issue with the angle their teeth are coming in. As long as you have been brushing and not letting him go to bed with a bottle of milk swirling around his mouth all night, you are fine. Just make sure to start flossing!
I know all the recommendations say to go at a year old, but my dentist doesn't see children under the age of three because he wants it to be a good experience and most kids under three just scream when they go to the doctor of any kind. My son just turned three and we went and he did great! I had my appointment first so he could see what would happen and that I was fine and then he had his turn.
My dentist said to go at three; anything before then can be traumatic. Although at my age, it's still traumatic for me!
Get Dental Advice from the Expert
Dr. Ruby Gelman
The Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children be seen by a dentist by the time the first tooth erupts or the age of one, whichever comes first! The purpose of that initial visit is to check the overall health of your child's teeth, discuss your child's diet and oral care routine, as well as to talk about family dental history and to answer any questions you may have.
Dentists like to use this appointment to assess your child's overall dental health and to determine any risks there may be for decay and cavities. If there is anything happening in the way of decay, it is much easier to address it when it is early and the decay is likely very small. Look at this appointment as a great opportunity to ask questions and get great information. This visit is often much more for the parents than it is for the kids!