Lots of parents wonder, “When should babies have their first dentist appointment?” Oral care for our babies and toddlers is something we stumble into getting our first introduction as our babies begin the often painful process of teething. Dental care for babies and toddlers can be a confusing topic for many new moms but it is a very important topic to get a handle on in order to try to avoid costly dental visits later. Today I will share tips on how to navigate oral health for their babies, toddlers, and kids. You’ll learn when to schedule a first dentist appointment, what to expect, and how often to see a dentist. This post is brought to you by the Academy of General Dentistry.
The First Dentist Appointment
When should babies have their first dentist appointment?
So for many parents, the most pressing question is, “When should babies have their first dentist appointment?” According to Dr. Larry Williams of The Academy of General Dentistry and Midwestern University, “The first visit should be when the first tooth erupts or at the first birthday. Based on nature’s timetable, teeth can erupt at 3 months or later. If no teeth are erupted by the one-year mark, the dental visit will begin the relationship between the parent, the infant, and the dental team.”
If you are like me, you may wonder if the first dentist appointment really needs to be so early. From experience, I can tell you that sooner is better than later. When I brought my daughter to her first dentist appointment I was unpleasantly surprised to find that she already had a cavity. Now, that is something I would have like to avoid.
What to expect at your kids first dentist visit:
A kids first dentist visit can help get important questions answered – when a child’s first tooth should come in, food and drink that may not be good for their teeth, how often to brush their teeth and what kind of toothpaste to use. They will also share important tips with you like don’t put your child to sleep with milk, formula, fruit juice, or other sweet liquid if you wish to avoid tooth decay.
According to Dr. Larry Williams, the first dentist visit usually lasts between 15 and 30 minutes and may include any of the following, depending on the child’s age:
- A gentle but thorough examination of the teeth, jaw, bite, gums, and oral tissues to monitor growth and development and observe any problem areas
- A gentle cleaning, which includes polishing teeth and removing any plaque, tartar build-up, and stains
- A demonstration on how to properly care for your child’s mouth and teeth at home
- Nutritional counseling
- An assessment of the need for fluoride
Why is the a kids first dental visit so important?
Don’t underestimate the value of a demonstration on how to properly care for your child’s mouth and teeth at home, nutritional counseling, and a teeth cleaning. Those can have a huge effect on preventing cavities which is not only important for saving you money but also to your child’s overall health. In fact, “The mouth is the gateway to the entire body, and poor oral hygiene can result in or worsen cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, and other illnesses”, says Dr. Maria A. Smith, DMD, MAGD. Findings from a recent survey from the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) shows a majority of parents aren’t often aware of the connection between oral/overall health. However, dental visits are more than teeth cleanings. They are also a first line of defense against a range of maladies, since the first signs of many illnesses are often revealed in the mouth.
I hope this answered your questions about when babies should have their first dentist appointment and what to expect. A kids first dentist visit will also help you impart good teeth brushing skills at home that are age appropriate and that is so important to establishing a life long healthy habit of good oral care. Feel free to ask any questions you may have about a kids first dentist visit in the comments below.