Every parent knows that children develop physically at different rates. This includes the development of the mouth and teeth. Therefore, it will be up to the parent to determine when a child should first go to see a dentist. This having been said, it is advised that a parent consider taking their child to the dentist fairly early, for a couple of reasons. First off, the parent should not hold on to any negative perceptions they might harbor about dentist visits being fear inducing. Dentists are not only trained physicians, they are trained care givers, that ultimately have the patient’s well being and happiness in mind. Secondly, by taking your child to the dentist early in childhood and making dental visits a regular occurrence, you can make sure that your child’s teeth are developing properly and are getting the treatment they need so as to avoid potential problems that could occur do to neglect.

Interestingly, a survey of primary care givers of children noted that the average age for the child’s first visit to a dentist was 2.6 years. One should not ‘follow the crowd’ by way of this example. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) indicates that a child should see a dentist for the first time by age one or within six months from when the first tooth appears.

Of course, as a parent, you should do your homework on the type of dentist to take your child to for their first visit. As part of this research, find out if the dentist had specific training in pediatric dentistry. Also find out if this is their primary practice, or, is at least a prominent focus of “family dentistry” they might provide. Data on the dentist’s training and specialty is good, but nothing can substitute for paying a visit to the dentist’s office before taking your young one there for the fist visit. Is the dental office “child friendly,” that is, does it include books and toys to entertain children while they wait for their visit with the dentist? What about the décor? Is it sterile and hospital-like or is it friendly and inviting to children with friendly pictures and designs and a warm atmosphere? How about the dentist him or herself? Does he seem to genuinely enjoy being around and treating young children; does he make them smile? Hopefully the staff, too, are children lovers.

So now that you have determined that your child’s first visit to the dentist does not need to be scary, think about how fast your child is developing and that they really do need professional care of their teeth early on to ensure that they grow up with no preventable dental problems.