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First Dental Visit

Many "family" dentists may tell parents not to bring children to their practice before they have all their primary teeth (age two or three), sometimes they even recommend to wait until age 6. The parent of a fearful or uncooperative child may be told "we have to wait until your child is old enough to sit still". Under unfavorable circumstances delay of dental care can lead to catastrophic disease progression that is not in the best interest of the child.

The AAPD recommends an initial postnatal oral evaluation within six months of the eruption of the first primary tooth and no later than twelve months of age. This means a child should have his or her first dental visit at the first birthday!

One important aspect of this visit is to discuss the child's risk of developing oral and dental disease. . In high risk cases this may be as early as three months. Dental decay in children can progress very rapidly.

The dentist will also evaluate the child's oral and dental development. The common question about "how many teeth at what age ?" will be addressed. The dentist will also evaluate the need for fluoride supplementation. It may be important to discuss non-nutritive habits (finger sucking, pacifier), injury prevention, oral hygiene, and effects of diet on the dentition.

If treatment is indicated the dentist should be prepared to provide therapy or he needs to refer the patient.