When Should Your Child Come in for Their First Dentist Visit?

Jul 11, 2022

When Should Your Child Come in for Their First Dentist Visit?

There’s plenty to keep you busy as a new parent, so you can be excused for overlooking your newborn’s dental care. After all, teeth haven’t usually appeared at birth. However, your baby’s first dentist visit might be earlier in their lives than you think.

The list of medical appointments after the birth of your child may seem endless, but most of these are preventive, simply checking to assure that their development is on track. It’s the same with their dental care. 

Choosing a family practice like Los Altos Family Smiles assures you’re working with a dental team that’s experienced with the needs of your entire family, from its youngest to its oldest members. Building a long-term relationship between child and dentist improves the chances of a lifetime of excellent dental hygiene. 

When should your child come in for their first dentist visit?

Most sources agree that every child should visit their dentist by their first birthday at the latest. Advice varies on earlier appointments. You may want to schedule a session as soon as that first tooth erupts. However, you’re likely not jeopardizing your baby’s dental health if you wait a few months after the first tooth, as long as it’s 12 months or less from the day they were born.

An information session

Though any tooth that’s erupted through the gums could be vulnerable to decay, it’s unlikely this will be an issue at the first visit. Our dentist’s examination focuses on your child’s development, making sure their teeth and jaws show age-appropriate progression. They check the condition of your baby’s teeth as well as the rest of their mouth for anything unusual. They finish with a cleaning of any erupted teeth. 

As well, this first visit can be an excellent time for parents’ education. You can get up-to-date on information such as: 

  • The impact of thumb and finger sucking
  • Teething
  • Pacifier use
  • Feeding practices and tips
  • Cleaning your child’s mouth
  • Baby bottle tooth decay

This first appointment usually lasts about 30 to 45 minutes. X-rays aren’t usually taken when your child is very young. 

Preparing for your child’s first visit

Use your knowledge of your child’s habits to schedule an appointment when they’re fresh and alert so they have a better chance of a positive experience. For most infants, this is usually early in the day. They may be less fussy if you feed them before their session. 

Ask for new patient forms or other paperwork in advance so you can minimize the amount of time you’re in the office. Write down any questions you have before the visit to prompt your memory. Play games to have your child mimic you opening your mouth wide, and watch videos or read books with them about going to the dentist. This may help them recognize familiar things when in a new environment. 

Your child’s first dentist visit starts the process that normalizes proactive dental care. Call Los Altos Family Smiles at 650-948-5355 to book your appointment now.