Is There an Age Limit for Seeing Your Pediatric Dentist?

Pediatric dental care age limit

4 Questions About Age and Kids’ Dental Care

Adults know they need to see a dentist every 6 months for a checkup and cleaning, but what about kids? Many new parents are unsure when their baby should see a dentist for the first time or when their growing high schooler should switch to a general dentist.

Below are the answers to these questions and more.

1. When should a child start seeing a dentist regularly?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends a child’s first dental appointment be scheduled when their first tooth erupts and no later than their first birthday

This may seem quite young, as many children don’t see a dentist for the first time until they are between three and five, despite AAPD guidelines. However, putting off dental appointments even just a few years can negatively impact your child’s oral health.

Studies support the idea that children who miss the one-year mark are more likely to have cavities because the most common reasons for an initial dental visit are symptoms of tooth decay—either visible caries or toothaches.

Establishing regular six-month visits with a pediatric dentist beginning no later than one year of age sets up your child for long-term optimal oral health.

2. How long can a teen continue seeing a pediatric dentist?

The pediatric dental care age limit for teens is 18, when a minor legally becomes an adult. When your teen begins reaching their later teen years, it’s time to begin looking for a family or general dentist that they can transition to when they become of age. The new dentist may be the one you see or one recommended by their pediatric dentist.

Once your teen transitions to their new dentist, their pediatric dentist will transfer their dental history. They may also reach out to the new dentist to share any important information regarding active oral health issues that need to be resolved, such as wisdom teeth that are due to be removed soon.

Transitioning to a new dentist as an adult can be especially tricky for patients with special healthcare needs who may not understand why the change needs to happen. We are especially understanding of how difficult this can be, and we are always available to help parents and caregivers in any way we can. Because we see many children with unique needs age out of pediatric care, we can offer recommendations for experienced dentists who will welcome your teen and guide them through the transition.

3. What are the benefits of seeing a pediatric dentist?

It’s normal for parents to wonder why a pediatric dentist is necessary when their child eventually has to stop seeing one. After all, there are family dentists who accept children of all ages and general dentists who accept teens.

Dedicated pediatric dentists have a greater knowledge of dental care for children and teens who are still in the development stage when compared with family or general dentists. They receive additional schooling and training in diagnosing and treating children and working with children with dental anxiety or special needs. Pediatric dentists also partner with your child’s pediatrician and other healthcare specialists to provide a more thorough, comprehensive approach to your child’s overall medical and dental health.

Children and teens who see a pediatric dentist regularly during their first 18 years of life may also feel more comfortable and confident with dentists as adults. They often prioritize dental visits as they take over their healthcare needs, especially if their parents encouraged excellent dental care habits at home during childhood and adolescence.

4. How often do kids need to see a pediatric dentist?

Children and teens should visit their pediatric dentist for routine checkups and cleanings every six months, just like adults. This six-month schedule typically starts at their first appointment, although it may change based on your child’s individual oral health needs. For example, if your child’s dentist is monitoring a cavity, or your child is prone to excessive plaque build-up, more frequent visits may be recommended.

Another unique advantage pediatric dentists offer is the ability for parents to bring in their children for Happy Visits, a sort of meet-and-greet visit without a formal examination. These no-pressure appointments are great for kids. They meet the dentist and their team initially, but they are also a great way to help children with dental phobia.

Children with a dental phobia or special needs who only see a dentist twice a year may build up a lot of anxiety, stress, or fear due to the infrequency of their appointments. Happy Visits can be used between checkups to help children learn that dental visits can be fun.

Comprehensive Dental Care From Infancy to Adolescence 

Parents in the Greater Nebraska area can find their child’s dental home at one of our many locations. We have gentle and experienced pediatric dentists in Omaha, Grand Island, North Platte, and Hastings, NE.

Schedule a visit for your child today by calling your preferred location or using this handy online booking form.