- Dr. Barry Yu
WHEN SHOULD I BRING MY CHILD FOR HIS/HER FIRST DENTAL VISIT
Updated: Sep 9, 2019
Your child just turned 6 months old and starting on solid food. You are so happy to see his first tooth coming in and you wonder what you should do to take good care of his first tooth. One of the questions I keep getting from my patients is: When should I bring my child for his first dental visit?
Parents are often unsure about when to take their child to see a dentist, especially when their child cannot even sit still for a whole meal. Will my child be able to let the dentist take a good look at his teeth when I have to constantly fight every day and night just to get the toothbrush close enough to him and brush his teeth for a brief 30 seconds.
According to the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child’s first visit should be when the first tooth erupts in the mouth, and usually no later than age one to two. I usually will stick to that recommendation; however, we have to be realistic on what to expect on the first dental visit.
The first dental visit usually isn’t for doing any real work. It’s more about introducing your child to the dentist’s office, letting him to explore the office, getting to know the staff and the dentist or even take a ride in the dental chair. If your child feels more comfortable maybe he will let the dentist to take a quick peek at his mouth.
We want to make the first visit as pleasant as possible for the child, so they won’t be afraid of dentists. That’s why we usually keep the first dental visit shorter. We will use a lot of “code words” like “tooth counter” for the dental probe, “tooth pillow” for cotton roll or gauze, and “tooth sweeper” for the hand-piece so the child will find it fun at the dentist. We will do a quick examination to check for dental caries, if there’s any issues with their gum or their bite, and watch if there’s signs of bottle caries and frenum issues. If the child is behaving well, we might even try to brush his teeth, so he gets to know the proper way of brushing and get more familiar with having a brush moving inside his mouth. From this appointment on we usually recommend bringing the patient back every 6 months. By the time the child is about three years old, he will be ready to have full dental appointments if it has been a good experience for him in the past.