You should bring your child to their first dentist appointment within 6 months of their first tooth coming in or on their first birthday. Whichever comes first. This can be a complicated time in your life, but it shouldn’t be. The purpose of this first visit is to help your child get comfortable with the dentist and for you to get any questions you have answered.
The visit itself lasts around 30-45 minutes. Don’t expect a long visit. If it would make you more comfortable, you can ask to have a tour and meet the dentist before your actual first appointment.
Depending on the age of your child, the dentist will do a full examination of the teeth, jaws, bite, gums, and oral tissues. They will check for dental caries, tongue ties, and any signs of injuries, and they will also check for normal growth and development. If need be, your child will also get a gentle cleaning, removing any plaque, tartar, and stains.
Afterward, your dentist will show and explain to you a proper way to clean your child’s gums and teeth, and also talk with you about brushing, flossing, and fluoride. They will answer any questions you might have like:
- What kind of toothpaste and toothbrush to use
- Brushing and flossing techniques
- How to relieve teething discomfort
- Which foods and drinks cause cavities
- Answers to questions about pacifier use and thumb-sucking
If you don’t already have a pediatric dentist for your child try to:
- Google nearby pediatric dentists
- Talk to other parents for recommendations
- Ask your child’s pediatrician or your own dentist
Your job as the parent:
Talk with the dentist
If you have any questions or concerns with anything, speaking with the dentist. This
appointment is as much for you as it is for your child. Make sure to also let the dentist
Know how your child normally acts--if they’re stubborn, defiant, anxious, or fearful. This
can help the dentist better treat your child and make sure they’re comfortable. If your
child has special needs, talk with the staff member that schedules your appointment to
let them know.
Just like with everything else in life, prepare yourself paperwork. Try to come in a few
minutes earlier to fill out the forms or check the dentist’s website for printable forms to fill
out early. Along with the paperwork, make sure to give the dentist a complete health
history of your child. Make sure to include if they’re taking any medication or if they’re
allergic to anything.
Make early appointments
Early appointments make sure that your child is awake and alert enough. Scheduling appointments later in the day or during their nap time won’t be good for anyone, including your child.
Take care of your child
If you have dental fears or anxieties, make sure to not convey those feelings to your
child. Children are very susceptible, especially to their parents. If they become scared,
their first visit will not go well. Before the first appointment, read them books or let them
watch a tv show where the characters are going to the dentist. The day of the
appointment, let them hold onto a stuffed animal for comfort. Talk to your child and
explain what’s going to happen and that everything’s going to be okay. If they need some
more motivation, plan a trip to the store or park after their visit.
Above all else, make sure to be patient with your child. This is their first time doing this, and they’re going to be stubborn or fussy at times. Just make sure to talk them through it and reassure them that you will be there and that everything will be okay.