As a new parent, experiencing all of your baby’s “firsts” is an exciting time in life. From the first giggle to their first steps, these milestones are all important parts of baby development and family memories.
Your baby’s first dentist appointment is one of these important stepping stones to pave the way for positive oral health throughout their life.
Our parents have a lot of questions surrounding dental visits for their little ones. We are here to provide you with all of the information you’ll need for bringing your baby to the dentist for the first time.
When Should You Plan Your Child’s First Visit?
If you see a tooth, it’s time to call the dentist!
That’s right; you should take your little one to the dentist as soon as their first tooth comes in. If you don’t see any teeth in the first year, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment for your baby anyway.
Gum health is also important to check on and a dentist can check for any abnormalities in growth patterns.
Additionally, if you notice anything abnormal during infancy like white spots on the gums, lesions, or bleeding, make an appointment with a pediatric dentist right away.
Why Start Taking Your Child to the Dentist So Early?
It may sound surprising, but children under the age of five are at higher risk for tooth decay. According to the American Association of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD), tooth decay affects nearly 1 in 5 children under 5, that’s 20 percent of kids who suffer from tooth decay and may not even realize it.
By catching any developing problems early, a pediatric dentist can diagnose and treat them effectively to provide a healthy smile for life. Visiting the dentist early also allows your pediatric dentist to check for changes and growth in your baby’s mouth as they age.
Choosing Your First Dentist
You may have a dentist that you know and love, but that might not be the best choice for your children.
A pediatric dentist’s office is a completely different world.
Not only is the entire experience designed around children, but the dentist themselves are trained in the care, oral health, and development of babies. Because pediatric dentists specialize in growing children with little teeth, they have a special way to make the experience a lot of fun. They also don’t worry if they get bitten occasionally or if someone has an unexpected meltdown in the X-ray room.
Pediatric dentists also use special equipment that is specifically sized for children and often have games, décor, engaging artwork on the walls, or even Disney movies on the ceiling to keep children occupied and calm during the visit.
Choosing the right dentist is an important step to making sure children are happy and even eager to return every six months.
Preparing for the first visit
Depending on the age of the child, they may not even realize they are at the dentist’s office.
But even for older children, your feelings about the appointment may be projected onto the children. If mom seems nervous, there’s something to be afraid of.
Here are a few tips to make your first visit a good experience:
- Research the office well in advance, and know where it is and how long it will take to get there. Plan ahead so you’re not rushed or frantic.
- Plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early so you can fill out any paperwork or take a look at the office for a few minutes before it’s your turn.
- Write down all of your questions ahead of time so you don’t feel frantic or worried about remembering everything.
- If you prefer to hold your child during the visit, share that with the dentist, they are usually happy to accommodate you or your child’s needs. For babies, laying the child on your lap and having the dentist peek inside their mouth is usually the easiest way to give an exam.
- For older children, watch videos or read books about the dentist so they know what to expect.
- Plan your visit at a time your child will be well rested and content, hungry or tired kids are not interested in cooperating with a dentist.
Whether you’re just getting through the teething stage, or it’s been a few years, it’s never too early (or too late) to take your baby to the dentist for the first time.
Most dental professionals recommend coming in for teeth cleanings at least twice a year, but your pediatric dentist may have an additional recommendation for your child’s individual needs.
There’s a lot to think about as a new parent, and a pediatric dentist will act as your guide throughout the 18 years of your child’s growing oral health. For all your dental needs call Kemper DMD!