In 2001 The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) adopted a policy defining and supporting a "dental home" for children, which states that pediatric dental care is best delivered where comprehensive, family-centered, compassionate care is available and delivered or supervised by qualified child dental specialists. In this model the pediatrician or primary health care provider refers the infant to a pediatric dentist based on their individual risk assessment, as early as 6 months of age, six months after the first tooth erupts or no later than 12 months of age.(1)

The AAPD contends that children who have a "dental home" are more likely to receive appropriate preventive and routine oral health care, thus reducing the risk and incidence of caries (dental decay). My experience over the past 16 years as a pediatric dentist supports this finding. When parents bring their children for a first dental visit as an infant and follow up with subsequent visits (check-up) at six-month intervals they aid in creating positive non-invasive delivery of dental services for their children. By the time the child has matured to the point where they can tolerate and benefit from a full prophy (cleaning) they are confident, comfortable and trusting of their dental care providers in the place they recognize as their "dental home." Establish a "dental home" for your child that follows the guidelines set forth by the AAPD and you will help create fun and fond childhood memories of visits to the dentist.

John E. Culp III, DMD, is a pediatric dentist at Jungle Roots Children's Dentistry in Ahwatukee Foothills.


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