When Should I Take My Child to the Dentist?

A baby’s teeth begin to appear sometime between 6 months and 1 year after birth. The first

teeth to appear are usually the top and bottom teeth in the front of the mouth. By age 3, most

children will have all 20 of their primary teeth, or “baby teeth.”


Once the baby teeth start to appear in the mouth, it’s time for parents to start thinking about

that first visit to the dentist. Dr. Griffith recommends that parents schedule that first

appointment around the child's first birthday.


Some people might wonder why baby teeth need so much attention, when the child is going to

lose them soon anyway. Baby teeth play an important role in the child’s development. Children

use those baby teeth when they chew their food, when they smile, and when they speak. The

baby teeth make way for the permanent teeth that come later, by holding the proper spacing

on the jaw. If a child loses baby teeth too soon because of decay, it can cause crowding

problems when it’s time for the permanent teeth to appear in the mouth.


The American Dental Association (ADA) calls that first dental visit at such a young age a “well-

baby checkup” for the teeth. Scheduling that first visit at an early age is essential because a

child can begin to get cavities as soon as the first teeth appear. Making that first dental visit a

priority, parents help to set their child on a path toward a lifetime of good dental health.

For a young child, this exam can be done with the parent seated in the dental chair and the

child sitting on the parent’s lap, if that makes the child feel more comfortable. The dentist will

check to make sure the child’s teeth and jaw are growing in the way they should. After checking

for cavities or other problems, the dentist will clean the child’s teeth and give the parent

instruction for daily teeth care.


If a parent has questions about teething, thumb-sucking, pacifier use, or other questions

related to the child’s dental care, this can be a time to talk about these questions with the



Besides scheduling the first dentist visit, parents can be proactive about helping their child build

good dental habits at home. For a child under 3 years old, a parent can start brushing the teeth,

as soon as they begin appearing in the mouth. The ADA recommends using no more than a

smear of fluoride toothpaste on the brush, and gently brushing the teeth twice a day. For

children 3 to 6 years old, the ADA recommends brushing with a pea-sized amount of fluoride

toothpaste, with regular brushing morning and night.


We are committed to helping our patients create a plan for a lifetime of great oral health, whether it is their first appointment or their fiftieth. If you are looking for a dentist in the Raleigh, North Carolina area contact us at Peace Street Dental today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ryan Griffith.

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