One question many pediatric dentists are asked most frequently is, "At what age should I bring my child in for his/her first dental checkup?" Most dentists will say between two and four years of age, because that's what they're taught in dental school. The reason dentists are taught this answer is because children have finished teething by that time and are usually more cooperative.
The only problem with this reasoning is that by age two, according to American Dental Association statistics, 30% of all children in America have a cavity or cavities! As a result, a child's first experience at the family dentist's office is often a numb lip, a rubber dam, and a filling — not the most pleasant first experience!
So, at what age should your child receive his first pediatric dental examination? At birth!
That's right — but in many pediatric and family dentistry offices they aren't just "tooth doctors." They believe in cavity prevention. And prevention starts at birth.
Some pediatric dentists would like you to bring in your baby so that they can tell you about fluorides, pacifiers, finger habits, nutrition, and oral hygiene.
There may be no charge for this appointment or for the subsequent visits they call "play" appointments. These appointments are scheduled at 1 year, 1-1/2 years, and at 2 years of age. By that time, many children may be receiving cleanings, fluoride treatments, and protective sealants.
If the child isn't ready for these treatments, they can continue "play" appointments until he is ready.
Pediatric dental care professionals never want to enforce or insist that a child have dental work unless he is ready. They want pediatric and family dentistry to be a fun and enjoyable experience for children so that they will look forward to their visits twice a year.
As a result of this approach to prevention, 95% of those children who make regular continuing care visits are cavity-free, as are 85% of adult patients who follow a similar regime. Yes, prevention starts at birth, and your family dentist's goal remains a commitment to preventive care.