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May 20, 2024

Teeth Talk: When Do Babies Go To The Dentist?

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Baby teeth may be small, but they hold a big significance when it comes to your baby’s wellbeing. Since dental health can affect your baby’s overall health, it’s important to start tending to teeth early.

We know you want to keep your baby’s smile healthy, and we can help! Let’s dive into when your baby should go to the dentist for the first time and how to prepare for your visit.

When Do Babies Go to the Dentist?

Your baby should have their first dental visit after their first tooth appears but before their first birthday. It’s important to get babies to the dentist early, as cavities can start to appear as soon as your baby has teeth.

Milestones and Signs

Most babies get their first tooth around 4 to 7 months old. Once your baby has their first tooth, it’s time to book a dentist appointment.

Your first dental visit will allow you to talk to your dentist about tooth health, diet and how to best care for your baby’s teeth. It’s important to be proactive about your baby’s dental care so they can have healthy smiles for years to come.

How to Prepare for Your Child’s First Dental Visit

Taking your baby to the dentist for the first time can be daunting, but a little preparation can work wonders in easing your nerves. Here are some tips on how to prepare yourself, and your baby, for their first trip to the dentist.

1) Prepare the right documents.

Before your dental visit, be sure you’ve prepped your medical documents. Bring a copy of your child’s medical history, a list of medications your child is taking and your dental insurance card if you have one. Many dentists' offices will have the option to fill out new patient paperwork online. Take advantage of this option to make check-in smoother with your child.

It’s also a good idea to write down a list of questions for your dentist so you don’t forget what you want to ask.

2) Read books about the dentist.

Reading stories about the dentist with your child can help prepare them and make them feel more comfortable during their visit. Try a newer book like Pout Pout Fish Goes to the Dentist, or a classic book like Dr. Seuss’ The Tooth Book.

3) Pretend play going to the dentist.

Use playtime to help your child feel more comfortable about their first visit. Pretend play exposure can take some of the fear out of the new experience and help your child know what to expect. Take turns being the dentist and patient and allow your child to use dentist tools (like a toothbrush or even a straw) on a stuffed animal.

4) Help your child relax.

Keep your child calm before and during a dentist visit by talking positively about the experience and treating it as a fun adventure. Let your child bring a favorite toy or stuffed animal that they can hold if they get nervous.

It’s best to schedule a visit during a time of day when your child is well-rested, so try not to schedule it during their regular nap time.

What to Expect During the First Visit

It’s perfectly normal for parents and kids to be nervous for the child’s first dental visit! But don’t worry, this first visit is an opportunity to meet your child’s dentist and ask any questions you may have. Expect the visit to last from 30 to 45 minutes.

Typically, your child will sit in your lap during the exam. The dentist will examine your child’s jaw and teeth to make sure their mouth is healthy and their teeth are growing properly.

Your dentist will also show you the best way to care for your child’s teeth at home, including proper cleaning techniques. They may also share tips on the best diet for teeth health as your child gets older.

Why Your Child’s First Dentist Appointment is Important

Even though your baby may only have a handful of teeth, their first dental visit is critical for making sure their mouths stay healthy. If your baby has tooth decay or cavities that go untreated, it can lead to pain, tooth loss and even serious infection.

Here are a few reasons the first dental visit is crucial.

1) Prevents future dental problems

    Heading to the dentist after your child’s first tooth comes in but before their first birthday can help your dentist detect and diagnose any problems with your child’s teeth. This can help with prevention before problems progress.

    Tooth decay occurs in 23% of children between the ages of 2-5. Tending to your child’s teeth when they’re less than 1 year old can stop dental problems in their tracks.

    2) Establishes healthy dental habits

    Your first trip to the dentist will help establish healthy dental habits early. After the first visit, your child should return to the dentist every six months.

    Visiting the dentist early and establishing a routine will also help your child overcome any fears they may have about the dentist. Your first visit is a chance to start building a trusted relationship between your child and their dental provider.

    3) Educates parents on proper dental care for children

    When your child is a baby, you’re the primary caretaker of their teeth. At your first dental visit, your dentist will explain the proper cleaning techniques for your baby.

    For more tips, check out our blog on caring for your child’s teeth.

    Check Out This Interview

    We hope this blog answers your questions about when babies should go to the dentist.

    Looking for more dental advice? We interviewed pediatric dentist Joan Kowolik to ask about brushing, flossing and best practices when visiting the dentist. Read the full interview here.