I have had similar problems as KareninCT.
When we lived in England, it was recommended that the children begin dental visits at one year. They start out going along with a parent, and it is a more "get acquainted" sort of thing at first. They work up to going alone and having a full exam. Children's dental care is fully covered by the National Health service, with no out-of-pocket expense.
We moved to the US when I had two children, ages one and four. I looked into dentists and found that none of them would see my 1yo...not until she was three! I was told that there was a pediatric dentist in the next state who would see her, but only if she was "having some problems!" In retrospect, I wish I would have made her an appointmen, saying we were having some problems. Then, when we were there, I would have said, "Yes, we are having problems. We are having problems getting a dentist to examine at my child's teeth!"
What can we do about situations like these?