When should a child see a dentist for the first time?

As parents tending to many of our children’s needs, dental check-ups often end up at the bottom of the list. In fact most children do not see a dentist for the first time until they are well over a year old. The American Dental Association and Canadian Dental Association recommend a child be seen by a dentist for the first time by one year of age or when their first tooth comes in (whichever comes first).

The first visit includes a dental exam on the child, but it is also an educational visit for the parents. The child’s diet, their oral hygiene, and overall health are assessed. Parents are typically in the room holding their child, and are encouraged to ask any questions. The appointment is very brief, and positive in nature so as the child can get accustomed to a new ‘dental’ environment. The dentist will recommend the frequency of examinations following this appointment.

Instilling proper oral care from an early age will create good oral habits that should last a lifetime. Early education, and early visits to the dentist may also help in reducing dental anxiety seen in adults.


  • Wash baby’s gums with a wash cloth twice daily (if no teeth)
  • Brush teeth with a rice-grain sized amount of children’s toothpaste with fluoride twice daily
  • Do not put babies to bed with milk, juice or anything other than water
  • Do not let a fussy baby discourage you; the key is to be consistent every day and a habit will form

 Note: the above information serves as a guide to routine oral care. For more information please refer to the BC Dental Association public website yourdentalhealth.ca

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