When should my child see a dentist for the first time?

Whether you’re a first-time parent or a seasoned pro, it can be hard to keep straight so many “firsts” in your child’s life. Which makes sense that it can be confusing to know when to take your child to the dentist for the first time. To help make this decision easier, I want to inform you on the dos and don’ts when it comes to first-time dental visits for your child.

Generally, you should take your child to see a dentist six months after their first tooth erupts (breaks the gum’s surface), or by their first birthday – whichever comes first. The first visit is about making sure your child gets comfortable being at the dentist, as well as teaching parents about infant care as it relates to their child’s dental needs, specifically:

  • Baby bottle tooth decay
  • Infant feeding practices
  • Mouth cleaning
  • Teething
  • Pacifier habits
  • Finger-sucking habits

 

The visit may also include a full exam of the teeth, jaws, bites, gums and oral tissues to check growth and development. Since baby teeth fall out, X-rays are not usually needed unless checking for tooth decay or to examine the root, depending on the age of your child. The appointment might offer a gentle cleaning as well.

To protect your child’s teeth at home, follow these tips:

  • Before teeth come in, clean gums with a damp cloth.
  • When your child’s first tooth appears, clean it with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a very small amount of toothpaste.
  • To prevent baby bottle tooth decay, don’t give your child a bottle of milk, juice or sweetened liquid before bedtime or before taking a nap.
  • Limit the length of time your child has a bottle to less than five or six minutes, if possible.
  • Limit food and treats that increase chances for tooth decay (hard/sticky candies, dried fruit, sweetened drinks, juices, etc.).

 

As a father of three, I know it can be daunting to bring your child to the dentist. If your child meets the criteria above and has not yet been to the dentist, schedule an appointment with me! I look forward to providing the best possible experience for you and your child!