When Should Dental Care Begin for Children? 


“In Australia, tooth decay in children is on the rise. Children aged 5 to 10 years have an average of one and a half decayed, missing or filled baby teeth”, according to Health Direct Australia. This shows the importance of timely dental care for children. 

Starting dental care for children at the right time can set the foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. In this article, we’ll discuss when dental care should begin for children and how often you should take your child to the dentist. 

When should dental care begin for children? 

First dental visit. A child’s first dental visit should occur within six months after the eruption of their first tooth but no later than their first birthday. This early visit allows the dentist to monitor the child’s oral development, provide guidance on proper oral hygiene practices and address any concerns. 

Early oral hygiene. Dental care should begin even before the first dental visit. As soon as your child’s first tooth erupts, usually around six months of age, you should start cleaning it with a soft, damp cloth or a small, soft toothbrush designed for infants. You can use a smear of fluoride toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. 

Regular brushing. As your child grows, you can gradually increase the amount of toothpaste to a pea-sized amount around the age of three. Encourage your child to brush their teeth at least twice a day and assist them until they can effectively brush on their own, usually around age six. 

Dietary habits. Be mindful of your child’s diet. Limit sugary snacks and drinks, as they can contribute to tooth decay. Encourage a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. 

Dental sealants. Ask your dentist about dental sealants, which can help protect the molars from decay. Sealants are typically applied to the back teeth when a child’s permanent molars come in, usually around the ages of six and twelve. 

How often should you take your child to the dentist? 

The frequency of dental visits for children may vary depending on their oral health and risk factors. However, here are some general guidelines: 

Every six months. Many children benefit from seeing the dentist every six months. Regular check-ups and cleanings help detect and address dental issues early, promote good oral hygiene habits and provide professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar buildup. 

Individualised plans. Some children with specific dental issues, such as orthodontic needs or a history of dental problems, may require more frequent visits. Your dentist will create an individualised plan based on your child’s needs. 

Preventive care. Preventive dental care, including fluoride treatments and dental sealants, may be recommended during regular check-ups to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce the risk of cavities. 

Orthodontic evaluation. Your child’s dentist may recommend an orthodontic evaluation around the age of seven. Early detection of orthodontic issues can lead to more effective treatment. 

Start early and keep your baby protected 

Dental care for children should begin early, ideally with the first dental visit occurring around the age of one. Regular dental check-ups and proper oral hygiene practices from an early age can help ensure that your child develops strong and healthy teeth. The frequency of dental visits may vary based on individual needs, but maintaining a consistent schedule of dental care appointments is essential for promoting lifelong oral health. Consult with your child’s dentist for personalised recommendations and guidance on their specific dental care needs.