Maine Dentistry > Blog > When Should A Child Have Their First Dental Visit?

When Should A Child Have Their First Dental Visit?

Among the many “firsts” in a child’s life, the introductory visit to the dentist’s office doesn’t usually come to mind. Still, this is easily one of the most important milestones in their life. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), children should see a dentist by the age of one.

Why Should Kids See a Dentist by Age One?

The average baby will develop their first tooth sometime between six to 12 months of age. With the emergence of that tooth comes an immediate risk of developing cavities.


That likelihood increases because babies may consume formula, breast milk, juice, and other beverages from a bottle. This can lead to incidences of baby-bottle tooth decay, or BBTD. It’s one of the primary causes of tooth decay in infants, and it can lead to more significant problems later in life if not treated early.


This type of decay can occur quickly, as the sugar from the liquids surrounds the tooth or teeth and gives bacteria a chance to create damaging acids. These can eat away at the enamel, leading to cavities. Even falling asleep while breastfeeding can encourage cavity formation, as the milk that baby doesn’t swallow may linger in the mouth.

What Happens During an Age One Dental Visit?

Seeing a dentist early is as vital as going to the pediatrician because it promotes stable oral health. During the visit, which typically lasts about half an hour to 45 minutes, the provider will perform several steps to assess the health of the baby’s teeth and gums.

Visual Inspection

The pediatric dentist will first examine all areas of the child’s mouth with a mirror, including the gums, cheeks, tongue, any teeth, the lips, and the roof of the mouth. They’ll look for signs of cavities or other potential problems.

Bite Assessment

The provider will also carefully assess your baby’s jaw and any teeth they have. This can give them an idea of whether they’re at risk of developing an overbite or underbite, common concerns that can be treated with braces in later childhood. A bite assessment can also give parents a general idea of what they can expect of their child’s oral health in the months and years ahead.

General Care

During the initial visit, the pediatric dentist will go over several important details that may help shape the baby’s oral health. They’ll discuss teething, for example, and may ask questions about any dental health concerns that may run in the family. They can also answer questions you might have about using a pacifier, thumb-sucking habits, and foods that could increase the risk of baby developing cavities.

What Are the Benefits of Seeing a Dentist in Early Childhood?

There are many benefits linked to early-childhood checkups. AAPD research found that children who underwent their first dental exam by the age of one were more likely to visit the dentist for preventative check ups throughout childhood. They were also less likely to require emergency care or restorative intervention.


The age-one visit could even have a positive financial impact, as it was also found that these children had fewer dental costs than kids whose first visits took place at the age of three.


Establishing a precedent of regular dental visits at an early age also sets the tone for the child’s formative years. That’s because pediatric dentists typically recommend seeing the child every six months, although some may recommend that you bring them in quarterly.  


Through these appointments, they’ll not only grow more comfortable, but also learn the importance of proper dental care and develop strong, positive habits that stay with them throughout their lives. It can have an enormous positive effect, therefore, on the long-term condition of their teeth and gums. 

Pediatric Appointments at Maine Dentistry

Scheduling a dental appointment for your child when their first tooth comes in or by the age of 12 months is an excellent way to take a proactive approach to their oral health. At Maine Dentistry, caring and skilled pediatric dentists tailor their treatment options to your child’s unique needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations in Portland, Gray, or Auburn.

When Should A Child Have Their First Dental Visit?

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