As a general rule, a child should first see a dentist, either a family dentist or a pediatric dentist, by the time they are 3 years old. The first introductory visit ( about age 2 1/2 ) is important.
There are exceptions when the child should come earlier:
- When there are dental caries (cavities),
- Abnormal growth and development,
- Facial injuries, or
- Just plain concern on the part of the parent.
Checking for proper development
Most children today do not have dental cavities.
One of the most important facets of dentistry for children is checking for the proper growth and development of the teeth and jaws. Early intervention is necessary if there is a need to prepare the child for the proper eruption pattern of the permanent teeth.
Having the family dentist treat the child when young all the way through adulthood is an important goal in most general practitioners offices.
When is the expertise of a pedodontist (pediatric dentist) warranted?
The question remains, “Should I take my child to my general dentist or to a pediatric dentist?” My answer to this question relates mostly to the behavioral characteristics of the child. If the child is reasonably amicable, then a pediatric dentist is not really needed.
When there is a management problem with the child (non-cooperation), this is an example where the expertise of a pedodonist would be warranted. However this is a rarer occurrence than some people think.