Preparing You and Your Child for a Healthier Smile
You bought the diapers and read all the parenting books. Between the steps to take and decisions to make, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when tracking your baby’s milestones, including scheduling their first dental appointment.
Should you wait until that first pearly white pops up before taking them in? Should you brush their gums at home or will that irritate the gums? It’s natural to be a little confused, especially when there is so much conflicting information available.
Today, we’re here to set the record straight and help you breathe a little easier. We’ll discuss when to book that first visit, what to expect when you arrive, and simple steps you can take at home to help instill great dental habits in your pint-sized pal!
Scheduling Your Baby’s First Dental Appointment
There are only two dates to remember when it comes to scheduling your baby’s first dental checkup. You should plan to attend that initial visit either:
- Within six months of their first tooth eruption or
- By their first birthday
If you have any specific concerns about your baby’s teeth, you’re welcome to bring them in earlier to meet with our team and discuss your questions.
Why do you need to visit the dentist for such a tiny tooth, especially when it will eventually fall out?
The answer lies in the important role that those early teeth play. Your child’s primary teeth are just as important as their adult teeth. When these teeth are strong and healthy, they aid in proper speech development, as well as chewing. In addition, they serve as valuable placeholders for their permanent teeth, which are growing right under the gums.
What to Expect at That First Dental Visit
No, we won’t be offering any whitening treatments or talking about braces just yet!
Rather, our pediatric dentists will use this time to introduce your child to our dental office in a friendly and relaxing manner. We want to help establish a lifetime of enjoyable dentist visits, and this is an important opportunity for us to make that connection.
During your baby’s first visit, the dentist will focus on acclimating your family to our facility. Once we’ve gathered all the required information on their dental and medical health, we’ll allow them to meet our team members, tour the office and even sit in the special dental chair.
If your child is relaxed and feeling comfortable, we can also provide a comprehensive dental exam at this time.
If they’re very young, we realize they may be hesitant to leave your arms, and that’s totally OK! We perform this first exam by allowing you to hold your baby in your lap using a technique called “Knee-to-Knee”. We’ll also show you how this same position can be great for brushing your baby’s teeth at home.
Depending on your baby’s age and needs, this first exam may include a professional dental cleaning. We can also perform fluoride therapy and take any required X-rays, though these can wait until a subsequent visit if your child isn’t comfortable or ready.
Before you leave, we’ll also share helpful tips on diet and nutrition that can aid in good oral hygiene.
How to Prepare for Your First Appointment
Your baby’s first dental appointment is an important step. It helps to prepare beforehand to minimize any nerves on their part and yours!
To help them understand what’s going on, briefly explain the concept of a dentist to your child using kid-friendly terms. You may find it helpful to read children’s books about going to the dentist, such as the ones on this list. It also helps to schedule their appointment earlier in the day, when they’re more rested.
On your end, try to remain calm, positive and enthusiastic about this visit so your child can follow suit. It’s also helpful to prepare a list of questions you have for the dentist so you can bring them up when you arrive. Doing so can help you feel more prepared for the appointment and make sure all of your concerns are covered.
Practicing Oral Hygiene at Home
Scheduling regular visits with your child’s pediatric dentist is critical to ensuring a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Yet, you can’t rely on twice-yearly appointments to keep their oral hygiene in great shape.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can do your part at home. A few of the simple steps to take include the following:
- Only fill bottles with plain water, formula or breastmilk
- Use clean pacifiers
- Take away the bottle before putting your baby to bed
- Wipe their gums with a washcloth or clean, moist gauze pad after each feeding
Until they’re 2 years old, you can gently brush your child’s teeth twice daily with a child-size toothbrush and a small amount of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice). From the ages of 2 to 5, you can increase the amount of toothpaste to a pea-sized amount, making sure that they spit it out. Until you’re confident that your child can independently brush their teeth the proper way, it’s best to assist them with this step.
As soon as your child has two teeth that touch one another, you can also begin to gently floss their teeth twice a day.
Schedule an Appointment Today
Is it time to schedule your baby’s first dental appointment? This is an important and exciting journey, and we’d love to help guide you through it.
Our team of pediatric dentists have completed years of specialized training in this field, and are dedicated to helping your family feel at ease from the moment you step in. We understand the natural fears and hesitancies that your child might feel, and we’re ready to make the experience as enjoyable and comforting as possible.
When you’re ready, feel free to reach out to our office to make your appointment.