When should my child start seeing the dentist?

As a dentist, I get asked lots of questions about teeth. I can’t go to a cocktail party or wedding without someone asking me to look at a tooth for them. As a pediatric dentist, I get tons of questions about children’s teeth from friends and family, from parents at birthday parties and sporting events, and even from my children’s teachers. I’m always happy to help, as educating fellow parents about their children’s oral health is one of the most fulfilling parts of my career. Children’s oral health is all about prevention, and knowledge is really the key to preventing painful and costly dental issues.

The question I probably get asked the most is, “When should my child start seeing the dentist?” The answer is that, ideally, your child should be seen by a dentist by 12 months. In other words, “first dentist visit by first birthday.” Usually, my answer is met with shock and surprise, even sometimes outright disbelief.

Children’s Dental Health Issues

Let’s take a step back and unpack where this recommendation comes from.

Did you know that…

  • Dental decay is the most common chronic disease in children
  • 60% of children experience a cavity in their baby teeth by age 5
  • Untreated decay can cause pain and infection that can result in trouble eating, trouble sleeping, trouble focusing in school, and damage a child’s self-esteem
  • A simple conversation with a pediatric dentist early in a child life can help foster a lifetime of good oral health

Overall, it’s so important to make sure a dentist examines your child by their first birthday. Prevention is key to helping your child have a happy and healthy mouth as they get older!