When Should I take my Child to a Pediatric Dentist?

New parents frequently ask when their child should be brought for their first visit to a dentist. Well, the short answer is that they should see their dentist at least once by their first birthday, and pediatricians nationwide agree. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children who pose risks for cavities see a dentist by age one. In order to explain when and why your child should see a pediatric dentist, Dr. Deborah Himelhoch and her team at Smiles in Framingham are here to break down the elements of pediatric dentistry near Wayland, MA.

Why Visit a Pediatric Dentist?

The notion of such early dental visits is startling to some new parents near Wayland, MA. However, studies have shown that children of preschool-age are now getting more cavities as compared to past generations. Dr. Deborah Himelhoch says that more than 25% of children in the US will have at least one cavity by the age of four, and many children will have them as early as two years of age. In order to prevent early childhood cavities, parents need to be informed of their child’s risk of cavity development. It’s also imperative for parents to learn to manage their child’s diet and hygiene to prevent problems.

Cavities, though, aren’t the only thing that parents need to know about their child’s dental health. One of our Smiles in Framingham friends mentions that the first visit allows for dentists and parents to discuss:

  • How to care for your child’s teeth
  • Links between diet and oral health
  • Oral habits like finger and thumb sucking
  • Teething and stages of development
  • Prevention of damage to the teeth or face

Following the first visit, your dentist should schedule a number of follow-up visits in order to monitor your child’s oral development. Dr. Deborah Himelhoch mentions that many dentists used to schedule visits every six months, but now visits are scheduled on a case-by-case basis according to the needs and risks of the patient.

How to Choose a Pediatric Dentist

Recently, many dental schools prepare graduates to provide care for young children. However, many professionals are less familiar and comfortable in treating infants and toddlers. In order to find a dentist that can provide adequate care for your child, you should:

  • Call the office and ask when children should first see their doctor. Find an office that says to schedule an appointment when your child’s first tooth begins to emerge, or by the first birthday.
  • Look for a dentist who specializes in the care of young children. You can look online at the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s “Find a Pediatric Dentist” page.

First Visit Preparation

The purpose of the initial visit is for the dentist to get an accurate understanding of your child’s oral health and how to care for your child’s individual needs in the best way possible. Many dental problems can be prevented or easily treated early on, so it’s important to find a dentist that you can trust and feel comfortable with. Dr. Deborah Himelhoch says that the best way to prepare is to list your concerns, what you want to look for, and what you expect. You should look for an office that is:

  • Focused on your child’s needs
  • Child and parent friendly
  • Knowledgeable about children’s oral health, development, and growth
  • Responsive
  • Gentle, kind, and patient with your children

In conclusion, it’s important to visit a pediatric dentist with your child in order to prevent or treat any oral health issues. If you’ve been seeking a professional pediatric dentist near Wayland, MA, then Smiles in Framingham is the dentistry practice for you.

Dr. Deborah Himelhoch and the team at Smiles in Framingham are experts in pediatric dentistry. If you have any questions about our pediatric dentist and live in or near Framingham MA, Wayland MA, Natick MA and Middlesex County MA or would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Deborah Himelhoch contact us: (508) 872-0555 today!

To all my wonderful patients and their families:


The greatest pleasures of my career are watching children grow strong and healthy and seeing smiles become more beautiful. It has been a tremendous privilege to be a part of that growth and transformation. Now, however, it is time for me to slow down and share the care of my patients.


Starting in September 2022, Smiles in Framingham will merge with Moynihan Dental Specialists. I will remain with the practice, but will reduce my hours and give up administrative responsibilities. The wonderful team of people you and I have come to rely on will be staying. They will continue to help care for you. There will also be new faces, new people who will get to know and care for and about you.


Dr. Michael Moynihan is a second generation dentist and orthodontist practicing in Framingham. Dr. Mike, as he is known, is on the faculty of Boston University in the department of orthodontics. We spent two years as teaching partners supervising the Boston University orthodontic residents as they treated special needs children at Franciscan Hospital for Children. It was during that time I came to appreciate both how skilled Dr. Mike is and how much he cares about his patients. I retired from teaching prior to the pandemic, but Dr. Mike still puts much of his time and energy into teaching the next generation of orthodontists.


I met Dr. Daniel Moynihan when he was my student in 2017. Even at that time he was one of my most conscientious students. He cares deeply about all of his patients and I am proud to be associated with him. Dr. Dan is highly skilled with all aspects of orthodontics, including treatment using Invisalign and other aligners.


Dr. Katherine Moynihan and Dr. Christine Chiao are other members of the Moynihan team. Dr. Katherine Moynihan finished her orthodontic training at Boston University in 2021. Dr. Christine Chiao is a pediatric dentist, who also teaches at the Boston University School of Dental Medicine.


Life is an adventure with many chapters, twists, and turns. I enter this chapter of my life looking forward to what comes next and feeling some sadness that this phase of my life is changing. For now, we will be keeping all appointments as scheduled. We will contact you individually about any appointment changes. All orthodontic contracts will be honored with care provided by the orthodontists. I have every confidence that the doctors of Moynihan Dental Specialists will provide you with excellent care for many years to come.


My very best wishes to all of you,


Dr. Deborah Himelhoch