When Should My Child First See the Dentist?

When Should My Child First See the Dentist?

Jun 19, 2018

It is common for new parents to ask their dentist when they should bring their baby in for a first visit.

Not knowing any better, some parents wait several years before taking their child for a dental checkup. Others are in a hurry to bring their infants in right after birth, and a few hold off for insurance reasons. Depending on your dental coverage and timing of enrollment this can push back the initial appointment.

My Recommendation for Making a Child’s First Dentist Appointment

I tell parents to schedule the first visit by 6-months of age, or by your baby’s first birthday. By that time the first primary tooth has erupted. Even infants can experience tooth decay, so it is important to start protecting your child’s dental health from the very beginning.

It is vital to instill proper oral hygiene habits early so that kids can get used to visiting a dentist. Young kids who have positive experiences in a dentist office earlier in life tend to enjoy brushing and take better care of their permanent teeth. Once it becomes just a part of life, they are more likely to keep up with routine visits and will be less prone to cavities.

By getting the first appointment completed between six months and a year old, your child will be acclimated to the dental office. It sets a good example and encourages a healthy lifestyle.

How you Prepare for Your Child’s First Dentist Appointment

Here are a few things to consider helping your child prepare for the first dentist visit:

Encourage excitement about the new experience. An infant may be unable to communicate verbally, but they can read body language and tone of voice. If you are mirth filled about the first visit, so will your child.

Be ready for any possible reaction your child may have by towing along some comforting belongings that will help put your child at ease.

Talk to your pediatric dentist before the appointment and find out exactly what will take place during the initial visit. Dentists all have their own way of doing things, and you will be more relaxed and prepared if you know ahead what to expect.

What Happens During a Child’s First Dentist Appointment?

While each dentist uses a unique approach to handling infants, the initial visit is basically the same across the board. Since only a few teeth have erupted, there isn’t much cleaning to do. However, a thorough dental exam is performed to be sure your child is developing at a normal pace and that everything looks healthy.

The parent’s role during the first dentist visit is crucial. You will be with your child throughout the duration of the appointment. You are the one your child will be looking to for comfort. Sometimes infants fuss, scream and squirm around, but this is common behavior for that age. Together you and your dentist will work to make your child feel at ease and secure.

A baby’s first visit typically includes:

  • A dental exam to check your infant’s teeth, jaw, gums, bite and look for oral health issues. It is important to see if everything is developing properly.
  • Your child’s first tooth or teeth will be cleaned and polished.
  • Digital x-rays may be taken if any visible decay is present.
  • Patient education will be provided, and you will be advised about dental care tips at home.

How Long Will the Appointment Last?

A first dentist visit for an infant is usually quite brief, maybe 15 or 30 minutes long. Because little ones can be overwhelmed or intimidated by dentists, it is best to keep appointment times short. This helps build trust and allows the child to grow an understanding that each visit has a start and an end.

Like adults, young children should see a dentist every 6-months. Some parents prefer three-month intervals to help kids establish a friendly relationship with the dentist. If your infant is too fussy on the day of the initial appointment, we are happy to reschedule in a month or two.

It is important to just not throw in the towel, You are setting the pace for lifelong oral health, and it all begins with your positive attitude towards regular dental visits. Early in your child’s life, you are the biggest influencer, not the dental care provider.

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