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I followed the recommendations to take my teething 10-month old to a dentist:

In an hour-long visit, about 5 seconds involved the dentist actually looking at the few teeth that were visible (the remainder was mostly tapping health insurance and medical history into a tablet with a baby in one hand). No photos or X-rays. What was the point of this? How does a dentist identify “mouth injuries”, “cavities”, “other issues”, and “dental problems” with such a limited observation of a limited number of teeth? Can a cavity really form within a month of eruption? Are there conditions that don’t have obvious symptoms for which this visit is intended?

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    The links provide immediate reasons as far as I can see. What is it you don't quite follow? – Chris Rogers Jun 4 at 6:11
  • @ChrisRogers I added quotes of the reasons I found; they seem overly general and illogical. – Spencer Joplin Jun 4 at 16:36
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    Sounds like your 10-month old didn't have any problems. The visit may have been a bit different if they did. – Bryan Krause Jun 4 at 17:26
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    Just out of curiosity, what did the other 59 minutes and 55 seconds of the visit consist of? – Carey Gregory Jun 5 at 4:38
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    @CareyGregory edited to add parenthetical. – Spencer Joplin Jun 6 at 18:37
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The American Academy of Pediatrics Bright Futures public health initiative has developed a comprehensive assessment of approaches to Promoting Oral Health in infants and children.

The "Promoting Oral Health" document describes in detail the reasoning and evidence for the recommendations.

Of particular note is the section on 1-4 years:

The key oral health priorities of this developmental stage are ... preventing caries and developing healthy oral hygiene habits. Early childhood also is a good time for parents, caregivers, and health care professionals to build positive dietary habits as they introduce new foods and the child establishes taste preferences [emphasis added].

Thus, while a comprehensive dental exam and imaging studies may not be completed, the visit provides the opportunity to establish care with a Pediatric Dentist, review these positive habits, and answer any questions you may have.

Dental caries are a major public health problem which disproportionally effect children with disadvantaged socioeconomic status. These recommendations are one of many ways public health advocates are attempting to decrease these disparities.

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