First Tooth / First Visit
It’s an exciting milestone when your child gets their first tooth and there’s another milestone that goes with it—the first dental visit. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and American Dental Association recommends that children first visit the dentist around the age of 1 or within 6 months of the eruption of their first tooth.
Why so early? What can a dentist even do with a baby who only has one or two teeth in their mouth? Here’s the reasoning behind these early visits: in pediatric dentistry, we value a concept called the dental home. The dental home refers to the relationship of trust that is formed between our team and your family; it’s the comfort your child feels whenever they come to our office. The first dental visit helps us get to know you and your child and lays the foundation for good oral health.
In addition, children’s teeth are quite susceptible to tooth decay in the early toddler years. With simple, painless early interventions, we can reduce the risk of cavities and ensure that your child’s dental visits are comfortable and stress-free. We can also identify nutritional factors and hygiene practices that may place your child at increased risk of tooth decay.
What to Expect at a First Dental Appointment
Your child’s first dental visit starts with an oral examination. We’ll discuss infant oral hygiene with you and, in some cases, we may clean your baby’s teeth and apply a topical fluoride treatment. Some babies are more cooperative than others, so the extent of the examination depends on your child’s comfort level.
Our team works to create a fun, supportive environment and to empower even our youngest patients to be active participants in their dental care. We use comforting, positive words and phrases and only perform procedures when your child is ready.
Though you may think a dental exam on your young child would be impossible, its actually quite easy. We use what we call a knee to knee exam, where parent and dental team member sit in seats facing one another. Your child is sitting in your lap facing you, and we lay them back to get a good view. Trust us, it works!
Frequently Asked Questions About First Dental Visits
When should you take your child to the dentist for the first time?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and American Dental Association recommend that parents schedule their child’s first dental visit by the age of 12 months or within six months after the first tooth erupts.
How do I clean my one-year-old’s teeth?
Use a washcloth, piece of gauze, or finger brush to gently clean the teeth and tongue in the morning and at night. Once teeth have fully erupted, you can begin using a small rice size amount of fluoride toothpaste. We don’t more than a rice size amount of fluoride toothpaste, because we know young children will swallow some.
How often should a child see the dentist?
After your child’s first dental visit, you should begin a routine of dental exams and cleanings every six months, unless we indicate otherwise. When your child visits the dentist regularly, they don’t have anxiety about coming to our office and appointments are less stressful—for them and for you!
Do newborns need oral care?
Even before your child’s first dental appointment, you can start them on the road to good oral health by cleaning their gums twice a day with a clean, damp washcloth. This gets them used to the feeling of having their mouth cleaned, which will make brushing easier when their first teeth erupt.
Is milk before bed bad for teeth?
Yes, if you put your baby to bed with a bottle, it’s bad for their teeth. When babies fall asleep while drinking from a bottle, a small amount of milk sits in the mouth and saliva flow has slowed considerably which normally buffers sugar, the naturally occurring sugars in milk can set the stage for tooth decay.