What you should know about your child’s first visit to the dentist

Parents all over the Middle Tennessee area want what is best for their child, especially in those first few years of life. While your child’s toothless smile delights you now, a proper pediatric dentist can ensure that their smile will last a lifetime.

When should you first see a pediatric dentist, and what should you expect to happen during that first visit? Read on to learn the basics!

When should my newborn child see a dentist for the first time?

According to the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), there are two suggestions to when your child should see a pediatric dentist for the first time:

  • No later than the age of 1
  • Within 6 months of their first tooth coming in

While this first dental visit might feel a bit premature, it is still a crucial visit. Pediatric dentists encourage these early dental visits with young children for a few different reasons. For one, it allows pediatric dentists to detect potential dental problems like cavities, tooth decay, or gum disease and provide professional consultation for the treatment and prevention of these problems. 

Pediatric dentists can also guide parents in implementing healthy strategies to improve their child’s oral health habits. Lastly, a child’s first dental visit helps prevent future dental anxieties and phobias. At Snodgrass-King, it is a top priority that young children on their first dental visit have a friendly, comfortable, and non-threatening experience that instills a positive exposure in your child for future visits. 

What procedures will take place during my child’s first dental visit?

A typical first visit to a pediatric dentist for your child will consist of:

  • Checking the existing teeth for any signs of decay

    • Often, young children are vulnerable to decay because their tooth enamel is thinner than adults. This thin enamel can put them at risk for developing cavities at an early age. To help prevent tooth decay in your toddler, we suggest that your child avoid drinks and foods with excess sugar. Bacteria feeds on sugars and produces acids that erode tooth enamel.
  • Examining their bite

    • Pediatric dentists examine your child’s bite to assess the alignment of their baby teeth. Misaligned teeth, also known as malocclusion, can lead to an imperfect smile, improper speech, and chewing issues. 
  • Looking for any potential problems with gums, jaw, oral tissues

    • Young children can develop bleeding or swelling gums, click jaw, and common mouth ulcers. All of which can cause significant discomfort to your child. With the help of pediatric dentistry, your child can easily receive treatment and learn strategies for prevention.
  • Gentle teeth cleaning

    • Your child’s first dental cleaning usually is very short and rarely requires much treatment at all.
  • Assess fluoride needs

    • Fluoride is proven to be the best defense against tooth decay. Your child mustn’t receive too much or too little fluoride. We suggest that you introduce your child to fluoride around 6 months old.

With your child just beginning their oral health care routines, it’s essential to make these first few assessments so that they can be corrected early on. It is unlikely that anything will happen at this first checkup, but a beginning point needs to be established for your pediatric dentist to know how to move forward.

What will I learn during my child’s first visit to the pediatric dentist?

We’ve had many worried parents from the Middle Tennessee area come into our dental practice with worries about their child’s future. Concerned parents will have their worries put to rest as you discuss these issues with your pediatric dentist:

  • What are good oral hygiene practices for my child’s teeth?
    • Brush at least 2 minutes twice a day.
    • Begin flossing when your child’s baby teeth when they start to touch. 
    • Keep baby utensils like teething rings and pacifiers clean of germs.
    • Use a wet washcloth to clean your child’s gums after a meal.
  • What fluoride needs does my child have?
    • As mentioned before, young children are very susceptible to tooth decay. Fluoride in the form of mouth rinses, pastes, gels, and tablets are considered the best supplements in preventing cavities from forming.
  • Should I be concerned about thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, lip sucking, etc.
    • It is common for young children and infants to do these things. However, it can cause dental problems to permanent teeth beyond the age of 5.
  • What are the upcoming developmental milestones I can anticipate?
  • What should I do about teething?
    • Babies are born with 20 teeth below their gum line, and teething will occur within 6 and 24 months. The teething process can vary depending on the baby, and teething symptoms are likely to occur. We suggest that you massage your child’s gums or give them a cold object to chew on to alleviate some of that discomfort.
  • Tips for proper nutrition for oral health.
    • Nutritional foods are essential in developing a healthy smile. Foods beneficial to oral health include calcium-rich foods, fruits, vegetables, proteins, and fluoridated water.
  • What schedule should we set for my child’s dental visits?
    • It is best to schedule routine checkups and cleanings every six months to ensure that your child has the perfect smile.

Snodgrass-King Pediatric Dentistry Services

We encourage you to keep track of your child’s oral progression and to schedule an appointment with us before your toddler turns 1. Our dental practice specializes in providing quality dental care that is also a fun experience for your little one!

An important note that you should be aware of before scheduling an appointment with our pediatric dentists. There are required patient information forms that need to be completed. Be sure to show up at our practice with all of your child’s relevant health information. Having all of this information readily available is important in understanding a child’s health and allows our pediatric dentists to provide the best care in Middle Tennessee!