As a new parent, you and your baby experience a lot of firsts together: the first time they say “mama” or “dada,” the first time they crawl, and the first time you take them to the dentist.
Speaking of that, how old should a baby be before you take them to their first dental appointment? What type of dentist should you take them to? And what can you expect from their first visit?
Don’t worry, mom and dad. At our Fort Worth family dentist office, we get these questions all the time. In this blog we’ll give you all the information you need, so you and your little one can have a lifetime of good oral health.
What Age Should You Schedule Your Child's First Dental Appointment?
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), parents should schedule a dental visit for their child as soon as their very first tooth comes in—typically around 6 months old. Regardless of when their first tooth appears, you should take your child to visit the dentist no later than their first birthday.
After that initial visit, you should schedule a trip to your Fort Worth family dentist every six months.
If you notice anything you think is out of the ordinary before the 6 months to the one-year timeframe (like bleeding, tooth discoloration, or premature tooth loss) it’s better to be safe than sorry, so book an appointment straight away.
Why Should You Take Them So Early?
Why should you even bother taking your child to the dentist if they don’t have that many teeth yet? The reality is as soon as your baby has teeth, they can get cavities. In fact, nearly 1 in 5 children under the age of five suffer from tooth decay.
It’s easy to assume that because your child doesn’t have a full set of teeth, there is no need to see the dentist. But, dentistry focuses on much more than just the teeth! It’s about gums, lips, and the inside of the mouth. And at each and every visit, your dentist will be checking the entire mouth in their preventative checks to catch any problems and treat them early.
What to Expect At Your Child's First Dental Visit
Their first dental visit is much more than an exam. It’s a chance for your child to meet the dentist in a friendly setting. And it’s also where you’ll learn how to best care for their little teeth.
Although each dentist will do things a little differently, here’s a quick rundown on what to expect when you visit us at Smile Fort Worth:
- Your child may squirm, fuss, or cry during their visit, just like they may do at any other appointment where you’d rather they stay still. Don’t worry; this is completely normal and our team will do everything to make sure they’re as comfortable as possible.
- We’ll perform a routine exam and look for tooth decay, check your child’s gums, jaw and bite development, and look for any other issues that may affect teeth or speech patterns.
- We’ll ask you about your child’s oral habits, such as thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, teeth grinding, and lip sucking.
- We’ll gently clean your child’s teeth and gums, and apply fluoride to protect against tooth decay.
- Our team will show you how to properly brush their teeth and tell you which toothpaste you should use.
- Finally, we’ll answer any questions you have and give you nutritional advice, teething advice, and advice on how to prevent cavities.
What Type of Dentist Should You Take Them To?
You may want to take your child to see the dentist you already use—but not all dental offices are child-friendly. Family dentists specialize in treating both adults and children. Plus, family dental offices have fun decorations and distractions to keep them entertained and kid-sized equipment to treat them with.
More importantly, family dentists are experienced in making kids comfortable during dental exams. Your child will be in a new environment, which can naturally be frightening for your little one. Rather than rushing through the appointment, they’ll take the time they need to establish a connection and build trust with your child. They might do this by physically getting down on your little one’s level or simply introducing themselves in a fun way to make them appear less intimidating. A family dentist will also explain things in a kid-friendly way, instead of using technical dental jargon. They may even incorporate some game into the explanation or pretend to practice what they’re about to do on you first so that your child is comfortable during the exam.
Dental anxiety is a common problem in children but this isn’t an inherent trait—it’s shaped by negative experiences or lack of frequent visits. Find a practitioner that gets to know you and your family and strives to make your child’s visits fun, warm, and engaging. It will make those 6-month checkups something they can look forward to and can positively shape the trajectory of their oral health.
At Smile Fort Worth, Helping You and Your Children Smile Is Our Top Priority
At Smile Fort Worth, we enjoy serving people of all ages—whether you’re six or sixty-five. That’s why we’ve designed our dental practice to capture the warm and welcoming atmosphere that we would want for ourselves and for our own kids. From providing warm blankets, toys, headphones, and our “Happy Visits” for toddlers, we do everything to make you and your little ones feel at home.
Schedule an appointment with us today. We look forward to meeting you and your little ones so we can keep your family on track for a lifetime of happy, healthy smiles!