Are you ready to take your child to their first dentist appointment? You’ll need to schedule this vital appointment sometime after your child’s first tooth erupts and before (or just after) their first birthday to make the most of your child’s dental care. Consult a pediatric dentist as well because they can give your child more specialized treatment.
To prepare for a first appointment, you should know what to expect from a child’s first dentist visit. Here are a few of the things you and your child will do during an initial visit.
Sit Through a Short Oral Exam
Fortunately, your child’s first dental appointment goes by pretty quickly. You’ll sit in a patient’s chair with your baby in your lap. Depending on your child’s level of comfort, they may either face you or face the dentist.
The dentist will then perform a quick oral exam. They’ll check your baby’s erupted teeth and gums, and they’ll also inspect your child’s tongue and lips for ties. Tongue and lip ties are additional growths of frenulum tissue that can impede a child’s oral health, speech, and sleeping ability. Your child’s dentist may also recommend a quick cleaning to remove plaque buildup if necessary.
Your child won’t have to get X-rays done on their teeth in most cases. If the dentist notices severe dental issues, they may order scans, but they’ll try to wait until your child is older (around five or six years old, which is when their adult teeth start to come in).
Discuss Your Concerns
Feel free to ask your dentist to explain what they’re doing and how you can make the experience easier for your child. If you have any other concerns about your child’s oral hygiene, raise them with their dentist.
For example, if your child refuses to let you or other caregivers touch their mouth, you can discuss this issue with your dentist. They can recommend a few tricks to help your child stay calmer as you try to establish a dental routine.
Answer Additional Questions
To provide you with the best tips and care possible, your child’s dentist will also ask you a few questions. They’ll likely ask you about your child’s current oral care (like how you brush your child’s teeth and how often you do so), what their eating habits are like, what their exposure to fluoride is like, and if your child has any habits that could affect their teeth (such as thumb sucking or chewing on hard toys).
Go Over Pediatric Dental Care
Once the dentist finishes the exam and you have answered all their questions, your child’s dentist will go over a care schedule. They’ll help you create a daily routine you can manage at home in between dental visits.
You’ll talk about how to prevent cavities in your child’s baby teeth, including how to use a fluoride supplement if you live in an area with poorly fluoridated tap water.
Additional care tips and details include teething and tooth development, how to properly brush your child’s teeth, and how to help your children avoid damaging their teeth.
Schedule Your Child’s Next Appointment
Before you leave the dentist’s office, you should schedule another appointment for your child. Pediatric dentists typically see their patients every six months to help children get used to the environment and exams.
Your child’s dentist may also provide tips to help your next appointment go smoothly. For example, they may tell you to schedule the next visit earlier in the morning — either shortly after your baby has woken up for the morning or after a nap. They may also suggest giving them a snack and brushing their teeth beforehand so they’re less fussy during the appointment.
Call a pediatric dentist as soon as you’re ready to book your child’s first dentist appointment.