young girl at the dentist in dentist chair

When Should a Child Start Going to the Dentist?

Team Pediatric Dentistry

Depending on who you ask, you may get a few different answers to this question. But according to most pediatric dentists and The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child should have their first dental appointment by their first birthday. 

Why so soon? Because most babies will have at least one tooth that has come in by their first birthday. Average age for tooth eruption is between 6 and 12 months. If your baby is already a year old and doesn’t have a tooth yet, there’s no need to worry. Babies develop at different rates. But go ahead and make an appointment with your pediatric dentist anyway. 

What to Expect at Your Baby’s First Dental Appointment

The main purpose of the first dental appointment is to introduce your baby to the idea of going to the dentist. Regular dental care should be a part of your child’s routine for a lifetime, so starting early sets the tone for a positive experience. 

The dentist and hygienist will introduce your baby to the dental equipment and tools to allow them to get comfortable with the procedures and processes of a regular dental appointment. If your baby is comfortable enough to let us get a look inside their mouth, that is helpful. But we don’t force the issue if there are signs of fear or anxiety. 

The parent(s) will be asked questions that pertain to your baby’s oral health, such as: 

  • What is your baby’s typical diet like?
  • Does your baby use a pacifier or suck their thumb or finger?
  • Does their diet allow them to get enough fluoride?

The dentist will also discuss:

  • Early oral hygiene recommendations. It is important to brush your baby’s teeth and gums with a soft bristled, age-appropriate toothbrush at least twice a day. Use a small dab of fluoride toothpaste. 
  • Risk factors for early tooth decay. Sugary foods and beverages like juice can cause tooth decay. Constant sipping and snacking can increase the risk of tooth decay as well. Brush your baby’s teeth after their last meal or feeding before laying them down to sleep. 
  • Tooth eruption schedule. The bottom front teeth usually come in first, followed by the front teeth on the top. The rest of the teeth usually erupt on either side of the front teeth one or two at a time gradually until all of the primary teeth are in place. 
  • How to prevent oral injuries. General home baby-proofing will usually help to prevent oral injuries. Do not let your baby run or walk around with a sippy cup or eating utensil in their mouth because serious trauma can occur if they were to fall. 

If you have any questions or concerns about your baby’s oral health, ask your dentist or dental hygienist during this first dental appointment. You should schedule your baby’s next appointment for 6 months from the date of the first appointment. Your child should go to the dentist every 6 months for their lifetime. 

Tender Smiles 4 Kids Makes a Positive First Impression

Your child’s first and early experiences going to the dentist will set the tone for the way they will feel about it for the rest of their life. A pediatric dentist will know how to make your baby feel comfortable from the start and every visit afterwards. Tender Smiles 4 Kids has plenty of experience with babies and children. We know how to make kids feel comfortable with getting their teeth cleaned and examined. 

Call today to schedule an appointment at any of our 4 convenient locations: 

We look forward to helping your baby get the right start for a lifetime of dental health.