June 4, 2023
Dental caries is the most common childhood disease in the United States. National surveys report that more than 50 percent of children still experience caries in their primary teeth. If left untreated the child can experience pain and infection causing problems with eating, speaking, and learning.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), American Dental Association (ADA), American Public Health Association and American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommend that all children have their initial dental visit during the first year of life.
The age one dental visit allows the dentist to identify the individual child risk factors for caries and provide advice on behavior modification, dietary habits, fluoride therapies, oral hygiene practices and importance of regular dental checkups for prevention of dental disease. Early detection of caries and use of conservative methods such as silver diamine fluoride (SDF) and fluoride varnish for caries management and prevention are also made possible with the age one dental visit.
The longer the first dental visit is delayed, the more likely the possibility that dental disease can no longer be prevented or arrested but will require some surgical intervention. Younger kids often need to be moderately or deeply sedated in the hospital settings for caries treatment. Conservative therapies such as fluoride and SDF can prevent and arrest tooth caries and can minimize or delay the need for restorations (fillings) and other more involved procedures like pulpotomies and stainless-steel crowns, reducing the risk and adverse outcomes associated with sedation and general anesthesia.
In addition to the savings on restorative dental care rendered in the office and hospital settings, preventive dentistry has the potential to save considerable amount per year on dental related emergency visits and hospitalizations. The cost of dental caries is not just the actual cost of treating decay which can exceed several thousand dollars, but also lost time from school and work and other family disruptions which could be effectively prevented by timely dental checkups. Providing education to parents on the importance of age 1 dental visit and regular dental checkups can help prevent a great amount of pain and distress associated with dental decay.
To learn more about the importance of the age one dental visit, please visit the following AAPD publication link: https://www.aapd.org/globalassets/media/policy-center/year1visit.pdf