When Do Babies Go to the Dentist?

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Your baby’s first year is full of milestones, from rolling over and sitting up to their first smile—and their first tooth. And once your little one starts getting teeth, you will likely have a lot of questions. When do kids start going to the dentist? Should we be brushing their teeth? Are their teeth coming in as they should?

You can get answers to these and other questions during your child’s first dental visit. The American Dental Association recommends that children see a dentist for the first time after their first tooth appears, but no later than their first birthday.

When Should a Child Go to the Dentist, and Why?

A baby sits in a dental office with a smiling dental assistant.Many parents ask us why their baby needs to see a dentist if they have only one tooth or none. It might seem early, but there are a number of good reasons to make an appointment for your baby to see a dentist in their first year:

  • Prevent tooth decay and identify potential issues . As soon as your child has a tooth, they can get cavities. Dental care helps keep baby teeth healthy, which is important for proper chewing and speaking. Healthy baby teeth also create a clear pathway for healthy permanent teeth. Starting exams as babies helps the dentist identify any potential issues early on such as tethered oral tissues or oral dysfunction.
  • Build comfort. Going to the dentist can be a source of fear and anxiety for kids. Starting early in life helps establish more comfort with appointments. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that families have a dental home, a practice they consistently visit, early on. Not only are children more comfortable with a dentist they know, but seeing the same dentist also continually improves the quality of care.
  • Get answers to your questions. As a parent, you likely have questions about your child’s dental health. The first dental visit is the ideal time to get answers about pacifier use, thumb sucking, teething, diet, and anything else about which you have concerns.
  • Apply fluoride varnish. If your child’s pediatrician has not yet applied fluoride varnish on your baby’s teeth, the dentist may recommend doing so. The clear varnish helps prevent or slow tooth decay and strengthen enamel.
  • Learn oral hygiene tips. Parents are encouraged to start brushing their baby’s teeth as soon as the first one erupts. During the first dental visit, the dentist will show you the proper technique for brushing baby teeth and gums and answer any of your questions.

What to Expect at Your Baby’s First Dental Visit

A baby sits on his mom’s lap in a dental chair with a stuffed dragon and shark toy.Your baby’s first visit will be similar to a typical visit for older kids (and adults). Parents usually hold their child while sitting in the dental chair. As part of the actual exam, Dr. Chris will:

  • Count teeth and look for signs of tooth decay
  • Examine their lips, tongue, gums, and insides of cheeks for any unusual spots or bumps
  • Review latest guidelines on best feeding practices, proper diet for healthy teeth and oral habit guidelines
  • Check for tethered oral tissues
  • Evaluate their bite
  • Check their jaw for proper development

Once the exam—which takes only a few moments—is completed, the hygienist will clean your baby’s teeth, apply fluoride varnish if needed, and discuss questions or concerns with you.

How to Have a Successful First Dentist Visit With Your Baby

Friendly stuffed animals on a shelf in a dental office.Although older children benefit from books, videos, or role-playing for preparing to see a dentist, those techniques aren’t effective with babies.

However, you can still make the experience a pleasant one for you and your child with these tips:

  • Avoid scheduling appointments during naptime. Newtown Dentistry offers convenient scheduling options so you can make an appointment for a time when your child is alert and happy.
  • Feed your little one (and clean their teeth afterward) before the appointment, so they aren’t hungry and cranky.
  • Bring a favorite toy or blanket as a comfort item. Newtown’s pediatric dentistry team is skilled in working with kids and making them comfortable, but often the child’s familiar favorite blanket or stuffed animal is the best option.
  • Write down your questions beforehand, so you don’t forget to ask them.
  • Fill out paperwork before you arrive to speed up the check-in process. You can find Newtown’s registration forms here.

If your kids need to start going to the dentist soon, get to know Newtown Dentistry as your dental home. Learn more about your child’s dental health in our free eBook, What Parents Need to Know About Pediatric Dentistry in the First Year (And Beyond). If it’s time for your little one’s first dental visit, request an appointment today.


    Newtown Dentistry

  • DATE

    September 24, 2021


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