Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry
Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry
                                                   Official journal of the Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry                           
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 37  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 113--114

Child's first dental visit in India: A reappraisal

M Sudhindra Baliga 
 Department of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, Sharad Pawar Dental College, Wardha, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
M Sudhindra Baliga
Department of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, Sharad Pawar Dental College, Wardha, Maharashtra

How to cite this article:
Baliga M S. Child's first dental visit in India: A reappraisal.J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent 2019;37:113-114

How to cite this URL:
Baliga M S. Child's first dental visit in India: A reappraisal. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Feb 23 ];37:113-114
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The first dental visit is a significant milestone in child's life. Globally, it is advocated that the first visit to a pediatric dentist should be within the 1st year of life. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that “a child should visit a dentist within 6 months of eruption of the first primary tooth and no later than 12 months of age,” whereas the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends oral health risk assessment by 6 months of age and establishment of dental home for all infants by 12 months.[1] The reasoning for this advocacy is provided although the recommendation itself is not universally recognized, especially in Indian scenario.

In our country, very few children visit a dentist before 4 or 5 years of age and the first visit is usually a troubled visit with the child reporting most often with pain or swelling. Pediatric dentists are unable to provide timely preventive guidance as the first dental visit is not followed in its true sense. Looking at a different perspective, pediatricians see a large number of children during their infant and toddler years. Furthermore, parents customarily follow pediatricians' counsel regarding their child's development. Above all, the pediatricians are the professionals who first interact with the family. Parents usually report to the pediatrician in cases of trauma to oral region as well. Thus, we as pediatric dentists are unable to provide primary oral healthcare guidelines and preventive strategies to all patients. Only few strata of the society receive the benefits of first dental visit in India.

It is evident that a multidisciplinary care and guidance involving pediatricians are indispensable for child oral healthcare. The pediatrician, as an initial educator, has to understand and motivate parents about the necessity of oral health and urge them for the first dental visit as per the guidelines. Truly, if proper advice regarding the child's development and eruption of teeth as well as guidance for the prevention of various oral diseases is rendered in the first dental visit, better oral health can be attained for these children.

Despite the availability of pediatricians and pediatric dentists across India, the first dental visit for children is usually a neglected aspect. The Indian soceity of pedodontics and preventive dentistry (ISPPD) adopts the AAPD guidelines for the first dental visit and advocates steps to create awareness regarding the same. We can achieve this by integrating preventive oral healthcare with the vaccination visits of the child. During these visits, pediatricians can encourage parents to make well-child visit to the pediatric dentist. Furthermore, the oral health status of the child should be documented to serve as a record of the preventive oral health services provided and a reminder for subsequent interventions just like vaccinations. This is possible only if pediatricians gain additional knowledge regarding oral healthcare and are willing to educate the parents. With the exception of feeding practices and fluoride supplementation, some of the health professionals may not be informed about other caries preventive measures. If efforts are taken collectively, the first dental visit to the pediatric dentist will mimic the “well-baby” or “checkup” examinations to pediatricians. The oral health promotion should be integrated into the existing preventive programs which have been implemented by medical professionals. Pediatricians should be encouraged to participate in continuing dental education (CDE) programs related to infant oral health. A change in outlook and reappraisal of first dental visit and stressing its importance through medical health professionals and awareness programs will help to extend preventive dental practices for all children.

Thus, as collaborative health professional and following improved guidelines, we would move forward from the curative aspect of dental care and appreciate its preventive and educational value and would ameliorate the compliance of parents with dental health programs and in turn improve the oral health status of the child.


1Kagihara LE, Niederhauser VP, Stark M. Assessment, management, and prevention of early childhood caries. J Am Acad Nurse Pract 2009;21:1-10.