First time parents often ask us at what age their child should first see a dentist. It’s not uncommon for parents to be unsure about all their children’s “firsts”, and going to see a dentist is just one of those firsts parents worry about. At Children’s Dental Center, we want to ensure your baby’s oral health early and to help make you aware of what happens at your baby’s first dental visit.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggest that children should see a dentist on or before their first birthday. “First visit by first birthday,” is their suggestion for children who are at risk of early childhood cavities. Ideally your child’s first dental visit should take place after their first tooth appears, but definitely no later than their first birthday. Your child can start getting cavities as soon as they have teeth, so get them in as early as you can. Your child’s smile will be healthy for life if you’re proactive about their dental health now. Many new parents are surprised by the idea of such an early dental visit. Preschool-aged children are getting more cavities according to several national studies. Many kids get cavities as early as age 2, and more than 1 in 4 children has had at least one cavity by the age of 4.
Parents first need to find out their child’s risk of developing cavities in order to prevent them. In addition they need to learn how to prevent problems by managing hygiene, fluoride, and diet.
There’s more than just cavities that parents need to be informed about when it comes to their child’s dental health. A dental visit at age 1 lets parents discuss:
How to care for a toddler’s or infant’s mouth
- The proper use of fluoride
- Finger and thumb sucking, plus other oral habits
- Prevention of accidents that may damage teeth and face
- Milestones of development and teething
- A link between oral health and diet
The dentist will suggest a schedule of follow ups after the initial visit. Most dentists suggest an appointment every six months. The schedule may vary depending on the child’s risks and needs. The dental team can help you learn how to prevent common oral problems as your child grows.
It’s good to talk to your child about what’s going to happen and be positive about it. Have your child practice opening their mouth so they’re ready when the dentist counts and checks their teeth. Watching videos and reading books about first dental videos always help children be more confident and less fearful about their visit.
The Age 1 Dental Visit
Learning about your child’s oral health and how to best care for your child’s unique needs are the purpose of the age 1 dental visit. Dental problems discovered in their early stages can be prevented and treated more easily. This visit is to get your questions answered and to start building your relationship with Children’s Dental Center. Take into consideration what you think you should expect, what you want to look for, and what you think you should expect to prepare for the first visit.
Please feel free to ask us about any concerns you may have. Our office is:
- Child Friendly
- Knowledgeable about the development of young children’s oral health and growth
- Responsive to you
- Gentle and kind
- Focused on your child’s specific needs
- Available for you in case of an accident or dental emergency
- Able to give specific advice about regular follow-up care
- Going to tell you about what will happen next in your child’s oral development
- Here to help you guard and promote your child’s oral health
Your child may be upset and fuss through an entire dental visit, but often times parents are surprised by how accepting their infants are when our dentists examine them because of the attention and novelty of the visit.
If you’d like, bring another adult with you, preferably someone who helps care for your child. You want to be able to focus your attention on your child and to be free to talk comfortably with the dentist. For these reasons, we suggest to not bring any other children along with you on our child’s first visit.
You can help your child know that the dental office is a safe and comfortable place by bringing your child’s favorite toy, blanket, or other familiar object. You can also bring a snack and an extra diaper if needed. Try and schedule the appointment when your child is usually most well rested and cooperative, as opposed to right before nap time. Make sure your child has a light meal so they won’t be hungry during their visit.
We send you all the forms you need to fill out before the visit to save time and make your first visit that much easier.
What to Expect
An age 1 visit is similar to a well-baby check at the physician’s office.
Here’s how the visit will go:
- We’ll review your child’s history.
- Respond to any questions concerns you may have.
- Talk with you about your child’s overall oral health, including but not limited to:
- Bite (how your child’s teeth will come together)
- Soft tissues such as cheeks and gums
- Oral habits such as digit sucking
- Diet, hygiene practices, fluoride use, whether others in the family have had cavities, and other factors that could prove to be cavity risks.
- Preventing trauma to your child’s mouth
We will thoroughly examine your child’s mouth in the knee-to-knee position. You and our dentist will sit on chairs facing each other. Your child will sit on your lap, facing you while laying your child back with their head in the dentist’s lap. In this position, your child can look up at you while both you and our dentist can see clearly into your child’s mouth. While in this position, we’ll:
- Show you how to clean your child’s teeth and give you a chance to practice
- Give you specific advice about the use of toothpaste and other fluorides, plus home care, including hygiene and diet.
- Tell you what to expect in the coming months as your child develops and grows.
- Schedule for follow-up care
Your child’s teeth may be cleaned depending on if they have a stain that occurs commonly in infants. If it looks like your child is at a higher risk of developing cavities, we may apply fluoride.
Before leaving the office, you will have a clear idea about:
- Your child’s development
- Your responsibilities
- Follow-up care
- Your child’s likelihood of having problems with cavities or bite
There shouldn’t be any stress about your child’s first dental appointment, and at Children’s Dental Center, we work hard to keep you and your child happy and calm throughout the whole appointment. If your child is nearing their first birthday, or if they’ve had their first tooth come in already, get in touch with us today. Let Children’s Dental Center be your child’s dental home!