Your Child's First Dental Visit
New parents often ask, “When should my child first see a dentist?” The short answer is “The first visit by the first birthday.” That’s the view of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Pediatricians agree.
The idea of such early dental visits is still surprising to many new parents. However, national studies have shown that cavities are increasing in preschool-aged children.
More than 1 in 4 children in the United States has had at least one cavity by the age of 4. Many kids get cavities as early as age 2.
To prevent early childhood cavities, parents first have to find out their child’s risk of developing cavities. They also need to learn how to manage diet, hygiene, and fluoride to prevent problems.
But cavities aren’t all that parents need to learn about their child’s dental health. The age 1 dental visit lets parents discuss:
- How to care for an infant’s or toddler’s mouth
- Proper use of fluoride
- Oral habits, including finger and thumb sucking
- Ways to prevent accidents that could damage the face and teeth
- Teething and milestones of development
- The link between diet and oral health
After this first visit, Dr. Ann will suggest a schedule of follow-up visits.
Frequently Asked Questions
The purpose of the age 1 dental visit is to learn about your child’s oral health and how to best care for your child’s unique needs before any problems occur. Many dental problems can be prevented or more easily treated in the early stages.
At this first visit, you will get your questions answered and start to build a relationship.
The best way to prepare for this visit is to consider what you want to know, what you want to look for and what you should expect. Be prepared to ask about any concerns you may have.
Your child may fuss during parts or all of the dental visit. However, parents may be surprised at how accepting infants can be when the dentist examines them. They may enjoy the attention and novelty of the visit.
If possible, ask another adult to come with you. It’s best if this is someone who helps to care for your child. You want to be free to talk comfortably with the dentist or hygienist and to focus attention on your child. For this reason, it is best not to bring other children along during this first visit.
Bring an extra diaper and snack for your child. Also bring a favorite toy, blanket or other familiar objects. This will help your child to know that the dental office is a comfortable and safe place.
To save time and make the first visit easier, you can go online to fill out the forms prior to your visit with us. The forms offer the chance to list questions or concerns that you want to discuss at the visit.
The age 1 care visit is similar to a well-baby check at the physician’s office.
Dr. Ann thoroughly examines your child’s mouth in the knee-to-knee position. You and Dr. Ann sit on chairs facing each other. Your child sits on your lap, facing you. You then lay your child back with his or her head in Dr. Ann’s lap. In this position, both you and Dr. Ann can see clearly into your child’s mouth and your child can look up at you.
At this visit, Dr. Ann
- reviews your child’s medical and dental history
- responds to your questions and concerns
- talks with you about your child’s overall oral health, including development, teething, bite (how your child’s teeth will come together), soft tissues such as gums and cheeks, oral habits such as sucking, factors that affect the risk of cavities, such as diet hygiene practices, fluoride usage, and how to prevent trauma to your child’s mouth.
- shows you how to clean your child’s teeth and give you a chance to practice.
- gives specific advice about home care, including hygiene, diet, and use of toothpaste and other fluorides.
- discusses with you what to expect as your child grows and develops in the coming months, and
- suggests a schedule for follow-up care
We may also clean your child’s teeth. This is likely to occur if your child’s teeth have a stain that commonly appears in infants.
We may also apply fluoride, particularly if your child has a higher than average risk of developing cavities.
Before leaving the office, we hope you have all your questions answered and know what we can do together to ensure your child’s excellent oral health.