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When should you schedule your child’s first dental visit?

A baby’s first dentist appointment should be scheduled within six months after their first teeth arrive and no later than their first birthday.

Here’s what to expect and how to prepare for your child’s initial consultation.

Why so early?

Baby teeth are susceptible to cavities from the moment they break through the gums. While your child is highly unlikely to require treatment during this initial visit, it’s important to have your dentist check for early signs of decay or injury. In addition, an examination of your child’s bite, jaw, gums and oral tissue can help diagnose potential issues before they hinder healthy mouth development.

Try to introduce children to their dentist before they require any treatment. This allows the child to have a positive experience in their chair.

Oral health care basics for children

A child’s first dental appointment provides an opportunity for parents to receive valuable information related to proper oral hygiene for babies. Topics include:

  • Teething and developmental milestones
  • Nutrition
  • Brushing, fluoride and gum care
  • Cavity prevention
  • Oral habits such as thumb/lip sucking, tongue thrusting or excessive pacifier use

Understanding how to best care for your child’s teeth sets the stage for a lifetime of excellent oral health.

How to prepare

A successful first trip to the dentist starts with preparation. Explain to your child in advance that they’ll be visiting the dentist and talk to them about what will happen. It’s a good idea to practice at home by having your child open his or her mouth while you count their teeth.

Watching online videos or reading books about the first dental visit can help relieve anxiety.

Mom and dad can prepare too. Fill out patient forms in advance to shorten time spent in the waiting room.

Tips and tricks for a great visit

  • Avoid behavioral issues by scheduling your child’s appointment at a time of day when they’re generally well rested and cooperative. Try to avoid an hour that’s usually reserved for nap-time.
  • Feed your child and brush their teeth prior to arrival. Bringing a hungry baby to the dentist is a recipe for tears, especially if there’s a long wait.
  • Pack snacks for after the exam.
  • Do your best to make the experience happy and fun. Bring toys or digital entertainment to keep your child occupied in the waiting room.