Proper dental care begins even before a baby's first tooth appears. Remember that just because you can't see the teeth doesn't mean they aren't there. Teeth actually begin to form in the second trimester of pregnancy. At birth your baby has 20 primary teeth, some of which are fully developed in the jaw.
According to the American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry, your child should visit a dental clinic by his/her 1st birthday. You can make the first visit to the dentist enjoyable and positive. At any age you should inform your child of the visit and tell her/him that the dentist and their staff will explain all procedures and answer any questions. The less to-do concerning the visit, the better.
But all dentists should be aware that as a general rule, an unemancipated minor’s consent to treatment is not valid. The consent of a parent or legal guardian must be obtained before treatment is rendered. Unfortunately, many dentists still provide “routine” dental treatment to their minor patients without obtaining informed consent from the parent or legal guardian of a minor child.
The informed consent process should be a complete and thorough discussion between the dentist and the patient [and the parent of a minor child], as to what procedures will be taking place, including, but not limited to, extractions, root canal endodontic, crown and bridge, implants, and incision and drainage. A written informed consent form should be obtained before any type of treatment starts, including any procedure involving flap reflection, cosmetic dentistry, TMD treatment, orthodontics and IV sedation or general anesthesia.
The informed consent process should include a discussion between the dentist (not just a staff member) and the patient about the nature of the proposed treatment, potential risks and complications, likely benefits, prognosis, alternatives (including referral to a specialist when appropriate), timing and estimated fees.
The informed consent process does not necessarily have to be as detailed for routine diagnostic and treatment measures. However, the patient must be advised about all of the treatment and diagnostic procedures with respect to the proposed dental care, including what is to be done and why. The patient does have a right to refuse even the most routine treatment.