Your baby’s first year of life is full of surprised and big changes. Milestones like their first tooth can bring a lot of joy to parent, but with these new choppers comes a lot of responsibility. With solid food, teething and a curious mouth, your baby will need to make their first dentist visit.
You may feel nervous about bringing your baby to that first dental visit, but rest assured, pediatric dentists are specially trained to care for the smallest of patients. To earn their title, your pediatric dentist completed at least two extra years beyond dental school to learn children’s development, behavior and best practices for treating and training kids to take care of their own teeth.
It’s never too soon to take your baby to the dentist. In fact, 1 in 4 children get a cavity before their fourth birthday, some as early as two. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, your child’s first dentist visit should happen after their first birthday or within six months of the first tooth appearing. In reality, the sooner a professional can look at your child’s mouth, the better treatment your child will receive.
Your baby’s first dentist visit is a learning experience for you and your pediatric dentist. During this visit, your pediatric dentist will get to know you, your family and your baby. Building a relationship early is important for motivating your little one towards better dental care when they visit for regular treatment. Your first visit is an opportunity for your dentist to examine your baby’s ever-changing teeth and predict future teething or growth patterns. This visit is the best opportunity to introduce you to dental care for babies and toddlers. Your dentist will likely discuss brushing, fluoride use, proper diet habits, developmental milestones and breaking harmful habits like thumb sucking.
While in the clinic, make sure you learn how to contact your pediatric dentist in an emergency. To ensure your child’s teeth develop and erupt properly, your dentist may suggest visits every six months. Over this time, you’ll learn more about how your child’s mouth will develop and any future treatments that may be needed.
Eventually, around age five or six, your child should have their first dental X-rays. This allows your pediatric dentist to plan for any tooth extractions, orthodontic care and other treatment plans for your child’s developing mouth. While it may feel early to bring your baby to the dentist, preventing decay early will strengthen your child’s oncoming adult teeth.