Most children start to get their teeth between the ages of 6 and twelve months and have all of their teeth by age 3. For this reason, many children don’t see the dentist until after their third birthday because parents believe that it’s best to wait until all of the teeth have erupted. While this thinking may be logical, the truth is that earlier is better. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child have a dental visit no later than his or her first birthday.   

Primary (Baby) Teeth

The most important reason to start dental visits by a child’s first birthday is protecting the primary (baby) teeth. Although they will fall out as the child grows, these teeth serve an important role in your child’s development. Primary teeth:

  • Help children chew properly;
  • Play a key role in speech development;
  • Save space for permanent teeth; and
  • Promote a healthy smile.

Each of these benefits addresses the current and future needs of your child so keeping these teeth healthy prevents problems. 

Address Tooth Decay

Sadly, by age 5 approximately 60% of children will have a cavity, according to the AAPD. Just as with adults, regular dental cleanings can reduce the risk of cavities in children. If left untreated, decay can cause significant pain and infection, resulting in difficulties with eating, sleeping and focusing at school. Scheduling an appointment by your child’s first birthday allows the dentist to check for decay, monitor changes, and address issues before they become severe.  

Comfort and Habits

The sooner a child has a first appointment with the dentist, the quicker he or she will become comfortable with the process. Help calm your child’s nerves by reading children’s books about visiting the dentist prior to their first appointment. You could also allow your child to accompany you on your next appointment so he or she can become familiar with the environment. Also, these visits can start your child on a path of lifelong oral health, so don’t wait. 

Petrone Family Dentistry provides exceptional care to patients of all ages and needs. We help parents care for their children’s teeth and help establish healthy dental hygiene practices. When your children need dental cleanings or other services, call us at (904)-783-0917 or request an appointment today.