Probably the first question that should be asked by any parent in regards to their child’s teeth, is “When should my child first visit the dentist?” Sure, there are plenty of other pressing dental questions on a new parent’s minds, but your dentist, rather than Google, is probably best suited to answer those questions. So the question that precedes all others must be, “When to start at the dentist?”
The simple answer is provided by the Canadian and Ontario Dental Associations, the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Academy of Pediatrics and all their American counter parts – most notably the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry(AAPD): By the child’s first tooth or first birthday.
Yes, you read that right. First Birthday or First Tooth. The purpose of this is to establish a “dental home” for your child. As per the AAPD the dental home should serves to provide:
comprehensive oral health care including acute care and preventive services;
comprehensive assessment for oral diseases and conditions;
individualized preventive dental health program based upon a caries-risk assessment and a periodontal disease risk assessment;
anticipatory guidance about growth and development issues (ie, teething, digit or pacifier habits);
plan for acute dental trauma;
• information about proper care of the child’s teeth and gingivae. This would include the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease of the supporting and surrounding tissues and the maintenance of health, function, and aesthetics of those structures and tissues;
referrals to dental specialists when care cannot directly be provided within the dental home;
Why, then, are so many family dentists and their staffs only willing to see children at “about 3 years old” and only when it’s just for a ride in the chair with mom?
The simple answer is that crying kids don’t brighten anyone’s day. And in all honesty, most kids will cry if a stranger tries to put his or her hands in their mouth – wouldn’t you?! However, as a concerned and conscientious parent, the avoidance of tears shouldn’t be a good enough reason not to be invested in your child’s oral health. In fact, pediatric dentists like myself, who encourage parents to bring their kids in by their first birthday are working towards that very goal of reducing the numbers of tears. The earlier you can instill any habit and make it commonplace to a child the better the chances are of having those habits and actions be comfortable and natural and therefore not scary or worthy of “the waterworks”.
So what can you get for a birthday gift for the one-year-old that has everything? Why not consider a roadmap to a lifetime of good oral health, and visit the dentist by the first tooth or first birthday.