Deciding the right time for a child’s first dentist visit can be tricky. There’s a vast amount of information online with, often, conflicting advice. Some dentists will advise that a child’s first dentist visit should come when all their baby teeth have come in around the age of 2 or 3, and still others will advise only to go in there this early if your child is experiencing issues with their teeth. We dug into the recommendations of countless general dentistry and pediatric dentists alike to get to the bottom of this intriguing question.

Child’s First Dentist Visit

Pediatric dentists tend to preach the “early and often” mantra when it comes to taking your child to the dentist for the first time. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association recommends taking your child to the dentist on their first birthday. Some children’s health practitioners say that it’s okay to wait until their second birthday if they have graduated from a bottle to a cup. This first dentist visit is more about allowing your little one to become familiar with the process and comfortable with visiting the dentist. This comfort with the dentist is established through exposure.

Benefits of Early Dental Visits

Some children don’t get their first tooth in their first year, and if this is your child, then you can delay their first dental visit until it does appear. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the average age of a child’s first dental visit is 2.6 years old. Visiting the dentist early in life helps ensure baby or primary teeth stay in place until they fall out naturally. This will not only set your child up for lifelong oral health but ensure that their bite develops at the proper rate and promotes a confident smile. Early visits to the dentist can also help in spotting and circumventing possible issues with spacing, the gums, or the alignment of your child’s teeth that might affect the emergence of an adult tooth or detect future problems early.

Waiting on First Dentist Visit

Many parents don’t receive guidance from their pediatrician, primary care physician, or general dentist regarding dental care for extremely young children. It’s not uncommon for parents to wait until the age of 4 or 5 before they go on their first dentist visit. In fact, a recent survey showed that 17% of parents waited until their child was older than four to go to the dentist. Dentists generally advise against waiting this long, as the risk of dental issues for your child begins as soon as their first tooth arrives. Waiting until children are approaching Kindergarten means that their teeth are more prone to cavities caused by plaque.

Knoxville Pediatric Dentistry & General Dentistry

Obviously, we care deeply about our children and their health. Just like so many health-related issues, everyone is different, and thus no traditional practice dictates when exactly your child should have their first dentist visit. It’s essential, however, not to delay starting your child on the right path to healthy habits. It could be younger than 1, or it could be two years old. By incorporating dental checkups and examinations early in life, parents can also make future trips much less stressful for everyone involved. Whether you have a pediatric dentist in your city or not, most general dentistry offices will see young children. Contact your local dentist to ask them for guidance about when your child should have their first dentist visit or with oral health questions regarding your child.

At University General Dentists, we offer dental care to patients of all ages.  Call us today to schedule your appointment at one of our two Knoxville, TN, locations–University of Tennessee Medical Center 865-305-9440 and West Knoxville at 865-500-5700.