First tooth, first visit, zero cavities: a review of the evidence as it applies to Ireland


Appropriate preventive dental advice and care should commence early in life. In this narrative review, an infant oral health visit is recommended and the reasons for this advice are discussed.


Statement of the problem: There is increasing evidence that the first oral health visit should occur before 12 months of age. Anecdotally, most children in Ireland are not seen at an optimal age.

Purpose of the study: To review the benefits, on both an individual and population basis, of children receiving oral healthcare before 12 months of age, and to apply the appropriate available evidence to the current oral health landscape in Ireland.

Results: From an individual perspective, there is published evidence of the benefits of infants attending a dentist before the age of 12 months. These benefits include the opportunity to risk assess the child, provide tailored oral health education and institute preventive care. From an oral health promotion perspective, there are additional benefits of providing population level programmes for children at an early age.

Conclusions: Introduction of the first dental visit by 12 months of age should be firmly on the health agenda here in Ireland.

Journal of the Irish Dental Association 2017; 63 (2): 105-111.

Dr Brett Duane
Associate Professor, Dental Public Health, Dublin Dental University Hospital

Dr Eleanor McGovern
BDS MFD MDentCh (Paediatric Dentistry)
Consultant Paediatric Dental Surgeon, The Children’s University Hospital, Temple Street

Dr Aifric Ní Chaollaí
BA BDentSC MDentSc (Leeds) MPaedDent (RCPSG)
Paediatric Dentist at Dental Care Ireland, Cabinteely and the Northbrook Clinic, Ranelagh

Dr Kirsten FitzGerald
BDentSc MS (Texas) FFD (RCSI)
Consultant Paediatric Dental Surgeon, Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, and Dublin Dental University Hospital

Corresponding author:
Dr Brett Duane Associate Professor, Dental Public Health, Dublin Dental University Hospital
E: T: 083-804 3070