Scheduling your child’s first dentist appointment can be scary for both parents and kids. Parents want to ensure that the experience is positive for kids so that they continue to develop a lifetime of healthy oral hygiene habits. Many children are fearful of new experiences, especially from medical providers.
Some babies have their first dental appointments because of needing a tongue tie or lip tie revision. However, generally, kids should have their first dentist appointment once a tooth has appeared. This can help to identify problems early on and protect your child’s teeth. Despite this recommendation, it is never too late to schedule your child’s first dental visit. Here’s what you can expect at the appointment.
After a brief get-to-know-you conversation, the dentist will look inside your child’s mouth during a dental exam. For very young children, this whole process might take only a minute or so to complete. The dentist looks at the teeth for decay and how the teeth are developing.
Depending on your child’s age and how the exam goes, your child’s dentist might recommend having dental x-rays taken in the office. This is a painless procedure that will help the dentist see the roots and structure of your child’s teeth. If an infant’s teeth haven’t erupted in toddlerhood or if baby teeth haven’t fallen out on a normal timeline, an x-ray can show the underlying issues that might be present.
Fluoride treatment can help to prevent tooth decay for children under the age of six. It can potentially reverse signs of early decay. Your child’s dentist will discuss with you the benefits of fluoride treatment for children, even if you live in a place with fluoridated water.
Your child’s teeth will likely be cleaned during the appointment. Depending on your child’s age at their first dental appointment, the cleaning process might vary. For very young toddlers, your child’s dentist might conduct a thorough cleaning using a child’s toothbrush. Older kids might have a more thorough cleaning with a dental hygienist, based on their needs and level of maturity.
Depending on what the dentist finds, the dentist might recommend some dental work to be completed at the appointment. Minor cavities could be repaired, as well as other treatments that are simple and pain-free. More complicated or overwhelming procedures would likely be scheduled for another day.
Pediatric dentists try to make the whole experience less scary and more fun. There might be movies to watch during the exam or prizes from the treasure box after the appointment is over. When it comes to taking your child to their first dental visit, there will certainly be opportunities for fun and enjoyment.
If you have any questions about what to expect at your child’s first dental visit, it can be helpful to visit the practice’s website, talk about any concerns that you have with a staff member, or request a tour. It is normal to feel anxious about a new experience. Sometimes seeing what you can expect can help.