Your Child’s First Visit to the Dentist

Although surprising to many new parents, it is suggested that the first dental visit takes place by the time your child reaches the age of 6 months to one year. Research has proven that more preschool children are getting cavities. In the United States, one in four kids has at least one cavity by their fourth birthday. In fact, it is not uncommon for children to develop cavities as young as age two.

First Dental Appointment

The first step parents need to take is to determine their child’s risk of developing tooth decay. In addition, parents need to manage their family’s diet, oral hygiene, and fluoride treatments to help ward off dental problems.

Cavities aren’t the only thing that parent’s need to be concerned about in terms of children’s dental health. At that first dental visit, you will learn how to care for your toddler’s mouth. The best dentists for kids will make sure you understand:

  • How to use fluoride
  • Kid’s oral habits, such as finger and thumb sucking
  • Ways to prevent accidents to the face that could damage teeth
  • Teething and developmental milestones
  • The connection between a healthy diet and oral health

Young Children at the Dentist

Also, at the first dentist visit, your child’s mouth will be thoroughly examined, with the child seated on your lap, with his or her head resting on the dentist’s lap. In this comforting position, both you and the dentist have a clear view into your child’s mouth, and your child can look right up at you.

Either a hygienist or the dentist may perform teeth cleaning, particularly if stains are present. A fluoride treatment may be applied after the cleaning.

After the first dental appointment, follow-up visits are typically suggested. In the past, visits every six months was the protocol. Today, the schedule may vary according to the needs of each child.

Choosing the Best Dentist for Kids

Pediatric dentistry is a specialty in dental school; not all dentists prefer to work with children. Some are less comfortable, less familiar, and not so prepared to meet the unique needs of infants and toddlers. You don’t want to meet with someone who doesn’t care to treat children, lacks the delicate touch, and risk instilling a fear of dentists.

To determine if a dentist treats young’uns, call the office and ask what age the dentist recommends is best for a first dental visit. Look for a location that suggests that children be examined before their first birthday, or when the first tooth erupts. To find the best dentist for kids, consider using the following steps:

  • Ask your primary dentist or pediatrician for referral
  • Look up pediatric dentists in your local phone book
  • Refer to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry website, www.aapd.org