A Dental Home is a place where children can receive consistent, comprehensive, compassionate dental care.

Establishing a "Dental Home" means that your child's oral health care is delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated and family-centered way by a licensed dentist. The concept of the Dental Home reflects the AAPD's clinical guidelines and best principles for the proper delivery of oral health care to all children, with a concentration on infant/age one patients. The Dental Home enhances the dental professional's ability to assist children and their parents in the quest for optimum oral health care, beginning with the age one dental visit for successful preventive care and treatment as part of an overall oral health care foundation. Additionally, the establishment of the Dental Home will include referral to other dental specialists when the pediatric or general dentist cannot provide the needed care.

Media Features

Start early with dental, eye exams
This article discusses the AAPD’s stance on when a child should go to the dentist for the first time and the importance of a dental home. Starting early is important to prevent early childhood caries.

4 Ways to Keep Your Kids from Being Afraid of the Dentist
This article urges parents to find the right "Dental Home" as a way to help their child feel comfortable during a dental visit. It also discusses what happens at the first visit and how you can keep good habits at home.

Pediatric dentists urge child’s oral health care to start by first birthday
What goes on at the first dental visit is discussed in this article as well as why the AAPD finds it so important to establish a dental home early. The first visit helps create a positive relationship with your pediatric dentist and child as well as offers tips on proper oral health.

Relevant Articles

Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Age One Dental Visit for the Privately Insured, 2015
This article talks about the benefit of taking your child to the dentist at age one and establishing a dental home early. However, many children don’t have their first visit until after the age of three, which can lead to higher dental costs later in life.

Early Preventive Dental Visits, 2014
This technical brief discusses the benefits of taking your child to the dentist at an early age based on clinical, theoretical, and scientific evidence. Not only is an early visit cost effective, but it prevents oral health problems later in life.

Factors affecting children’s adherence to regular dental attendance: A systematic review, 2014

This JADA article discusses early childhood caries (ECC) as a chronic childhood disease. It identifies demographic, socioeconomic, structural and cultural factors that affect a lack of regular dental visits among children.

Do early dental visits reduce the treatment and treatment costs for children?, 2014
This article looks at children who have high risk for dental caries and compares the cost for children who had an early dental intervention with children who went to the dentist at a later time.

Ohio Dentists’ awareness and incorporation of the dental home concept, 2013
This article discusses whether pediatric dentists and general practice dentists in Ohio included dental home characteristics in their practices. The research examined how dentists were practicing "Dental Home" characteristics in their practices with children 5 years or younger.

Beyond the dmft: The Human and Economic Cost of Early Childhood Caries, 2009
This article identifies the risks ECC has on children. Untreated dental caries can lead to serious health risks, often due to lack of access to dental care. ECC can affect a child’s development, school performance and behavior.

A Home Away From Home: The Patient-centered health home, 2009
This article discusses the concept of a "medical home" and the importance of establishing a relationship with your child’s primary care provider early in life.

Examining the cost-effectiveness of Early Dental Visits, 2006
This article discusses the importance of an early dental visit and what takes place at the first visit. It features scientific evidence as well as the theoretical rationale behind an early dental visit.

The Dental Home: A primary care oral health concept, 2002

This article discusses the importance of establishing a relationship with a dentist and providing anticipatory guidance and access to care in a safe and familiar manner.

Related AAPD Policies and Guidelines

AAPD Policy on the Dental Home
Early Childhood Caries (ECC): Classifications, Consequences and Preventive Strategies
Early Childhood Caries (ECC): Unique challenges and Treatment Options
Dietary Recommendations for Infants, Children and Adolescents
Periodicity of Examination, Preventive Dental Services, Anticipatory Guidance and Oral Treatment for Infants, Children and Adolescents
Policy on Use of Fluoride
Fluoride Therapy

Additional Resources

AAPD Patient Education Brochures

Dental Care for your Baby
The Pediatric Dentist
Preventive Dentistry
Thumb, Finger and Pacifier Habits

Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children: The Foundation of the AAPD

WDA Dental Home Initiative
The WDA Dental Home initiative is helping general dentists and their dental teams become more comfortable and competent in examining and treating very young children. More than 13,600 dentists in five states - Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin - have received the clinical information and practice tools necessary to help their general practices provide efficient, welcoming dental homes for very young children and families since the WDA launched its dental home initiative in 2009.

Click here to find out more about the CE Kit and infant oral health patient and dentist awareness packages.

The Dental Home: Summary from an MCHB Expert Meeting, 2008

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) convened a meeting of experts representing federal, national, state, and local leaders to collect information about defining and establishing dental homes.

Points of Light: A Resource Guide for Pediatric and General Dentists to Successfully Establish an Infant Oral Health Referral Infrastructure in Your Community and State

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