At What Age Should My Child First See A Dentist?

As a parent, you probably know that oral hygiene is essential from an early age, but you might not what is "the best time". Learning more about infant and toddler dental care is best done by visiting a pediatric dentist (dentist for kids) before problems arise. 

When Should the First Dental Appointment Happen?

Believe it or not, but according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry AAPD, children should have their first dental visit within six months of the first tooth erupting. While this may seem far too early, dentists for kids insist that starting a dental care routine as soon as baby teeth have begun sprouting is best for your child.  

The main focus of this 1st visit around the time of their 1st birthday is to make sure that parents have all the right info and tools to provide optimal care at home and have a strong preventive plan. Cavities and gum disease are largely preventable, so be sure you get all the facts as early as possible.

It is common for parents to believe that toddlers don't need to visit a dentist for kids. But, you may be surprised to learn that tooth decay (cavities) can start very early. Getting your child in for a dentist visit as early as possible gives them the best chance for healthy teeth and gums.  

How do we Prepare for My Child's First Appointment?

The obvious first step is choosing a pediatric dentist that can care for littles in a child-friendly environment.  Seek out a pediatric dentist whose entire practice is devoted to caring for infants, children, and teens. Only pediatric dentists have advanced training to understand and address children's unique oral health care needs.

At a first visit for a baby or toddler, the goal is not only for Dr. Ball to do an exam of your child's mouth and show you how to effectively clean those tiny teeth. It is also, and perhaps more importantly, about establishing a relationship with the parents and having them be comfortable with our office, our team members, and the healthy habit of bringing your child for dental appointments as part of a routine, not just when there is an issue. Think of these early visits as the equivalent of "well child checks" with the pediatrician.

There are several steps you can take as a parent to help the visit run smoothly: 

  • Build enthusiasm for the first visit by getting them excited about brushing, flossing, and creating good oral hygiene habits. ‍
  • Build excitement about getting a check-up for their teeth (and obviously there are NO SHOTS!). 
  • Keep calm. We know that often kids react to new situations based on the reaction of their parents.
  • Don't fret about your child being "uncooperative." We don't expect or require cooperation from young kids, for whom crying or fussing is considered appropriate and developmentally normal. As long as you, the parent, are ready to cooperate, we’ll be in good shape. We will be gentle and reassuring with your child, and we will send them home with a little gift so they can leave happy, even if they get a little cranky during an earlier part of their visit.

What Will the First Appointment Be Like?

When you and your child walk through our pediatric dental doors, you will be greeted with enthusiasm and a calm environment. Let your child explore the waiting room, so it's not foreign the next time you're there. 

We tailor each visit to your child's age and level of cooperation. We work with each family to get the most out of your child's visit. Dr. Ball and her team members will introduce themselves and explain what is going to happen during the visit, step by step.

If your child is nervous, they can choose to sit in your lap, and we use our "lap board", which allows us to still do a thorough evaluation. A good dentist for kids won't push past your child's comfort level. But a great dentist is also willing to be patient and try to coax your child into trying to sit in our booster seat and allow them to safely explore "the big kid" way of getting a dental check-up.  For parents, the discussion before and after the exam is the perfect time to get answers to any questions you may have about your child's oral health and development. You can learn what to expect as your child develops and get professional advice for cleaning your child's teeth properly.

If you're searching for a pediatric dentist in the Rockville, MD, area, you won't find a better option than Shady Grove Pediatric Dentistry. We have the expertise in treatment options to provide the best care for your child and their smile.

In Health and Happiness,

Dr. Bana Ball

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