A Child’s First Dental Visit: What To Expect

Going to the dentist is a necessary part of getting older. As our teeth grow and develop, it is important for us to get them checked regularly to ensure that they remain healthy and strong.

The sooner your child has a dental checkup, they will be less likely to develop dental issues in the long run.

This post aims to give you tips on preparing both you and your child for their first checkup as well as taking care of their teeth between visits.

Prepare Your Child

The first dental checkup can be a lot for a child to process. Most children may feel anxious, so it is crucial that your child understands the importance of the visit. To prepare your child for the dentist, here are a few things you can do.

  • Schedule an early appointment – Younger children tend to be more awake and aware earlier in the day.
  • Build excitement and understanding – Let your child know what to expect during the appointment to help lessen anxiety.
Prepare Yourself

You may also be feeling anxious about your child’s first appointment. However, it is important to not let worry or negative dental experiences affect them. Below are some things you can do to keep yourself and your child more comfortable and calm.

  • Discuss concerns with the dentist – By asking questions and talking through any concerns, your dentist can keep you informed so you understand your child’s dental needs.
  • Stay calm in exam rooms – Children are able to sense your fears and other anxieties, so try to stay calm and supportive.
Prepare the Dentist

For their first appointment, the dentist will need to know a lot of information about your child. Be prepared to answer questions about your child’s health history and current behaviors. Dentists want to have all the information to give your child the best possible care.

The First Visit

Your child’s first visit should be either 6 months after their first tooth erupts or before 12 months of age.

The first appointment is to help your child become more comfortable at the dentist and typically lasts around 30-45 minutes. Here are a few things that you could expect at their initial visit:

  • Comprehensive Exam – This exam will include an examination of teeth, jaws, bite, gums, and oral tissues. They will be checking for proper development and growth.
  • Gentle Cleaning – This would include polishing the teeth, removing buildup of plaque, stains, and tartar, as well as flossing, and fluoride.
  • X-Rays – Dentists use these to look at decay or to see if the root of a baby tooth is affecting an adult tooth. X-rays are not typically taken during the first visit unless needed.
The Second Visit

You should aim to schedule a dentist appointment every 6 months. Sometimes a dentist will require more frequent check-ups to monitor development. Periodic visits will help your child be more comfortable at the dentist, so they are more prepared with each coming appointment.

What To Do at Home

Practicing good dental hygiene at home is just as important as the dental appointment itself. Here are some ways to protect your children’s teeth in between visits:.

  • Before the teeth erupt, clean the gum line with a clean, damp cloth.
  • When your child’s first tooth appears, brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a small amount of fluoride toothpaste (grain of rice). You can begin using a larger amount of toothpaste (pea-sized) when your child is able to spit-it-out. This development will typically happen around 3 years old.
  • To prevent baby bottle decay, do not give children a bottle with milk, juice, or any sweetened liquid before a nap or bedtime. And, especially never let your child keep the bottle with them in bed all night long.
  • Begin weaning your child off the bottle between 12 and 16 months. Misalignment issues and cavities develop more with milk and other formulas, so try to reduce the amount of time your child has a bottle to about 5-6 minutes per feeding.
  • Until a child reaches the age of 7, you should be helping them brush their teeth. Have them watch you brush your teeth and follow the same patterns to reduce missed spots.
  • Limit foods and drinks that increase the likelihood of tooth decay. This includes sticky candies, fruit strips, and sweetened beverages like juice. Parents can opt for real fruit instead because of its high fiber content that is better for our teeth’s surfaces.

Schedule your child’s first dental appointment with our friendly and experienced team at Coastal Pediatric Dental & Anesthesia today!