As a parent of a young child, there’s nothing more exciting than watching them grow, develop, and reach new milestones. There is their first smile, their first words, the first time they crawl, and the first time they walk. There is also their first tooth, which often brings about questions over when your child should have their first visit to the dentist. At Gallatin Valley Pediatric Dentistry, we would love to be a part your child’s very first dental visit and provide them (and you!) with the dental care they need as they continue to grow.
What is the Best Age to Schedule My Child’s First Visit?
As new parents, you may be unsure of when to schedule your child’s first visit. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends the first visit be around their child’s first birthday. This is also when Dr. Joni and Dr. Justin would like to see your infant. It doesn’t matter if your child has one tooth, several teeth, or even no teeth at all. A healthy smile starts with the first tooth!
Why Are Early Visits So Important?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child sees the dentist once they get their first tooth or by their first birthday. This is important to help your child establish a “dental home” and get comfortable with coming to the dentist at an early age for easy and routine visits. The dentist will also discuss brushing, nursing, diet, bottle use, pacifier use, thumb sucking and answer any questions you may have about your child’s oral health. By discussing and reinforcing good dental habits early on we can increase their chance of being cavity free.
Even little teeth can develop cavities. Untreated cavities can lead to pain, which can affect how your child eats and speaks. They can even affect your child’s concentration. With these visits, we can help you ensure that your child’s teeth stay healthy and cavity free. We can provide you with information on what causes cavities to develop and what you can do to prevent them.
How Can I Prepare for the First Visit?
There are several things that you can do to prepare your child, and yourself, for the first visit. To prepare your child, talk to them about the dentist with a fun, positive tone. If they are old enough to understand, discuss what their dental visit will entail. Check out a book or two from the library about going to the dentist, or watch a video. If you think your child will be nervous, pack a comfort object such as a favorite stuffed animal or security blanket. It is also important that you prepare yourself for the visit. If you have any specific questions or concerns, write them down. We will be more than happy to go over all of your questions and concerns during the appointment. Fill out patient paperwork ahead of time so that you do not have to worry about it on the day of the appointment.
What Will Happen During the First Visit?
We focus on growth and development, diet, hygiene, anticipatory guidance, and what to expect. When you are brought into the exam room, we will have your child sit in the chair. If your child cannot sit on their own, or they are scared, we may ask that you hold them on your lap. We will then take a peek inside their mouth to look at any teeth that are present as well as your child’s soft tissues, tongue and jaw. We may gently clean their teeth if we see any plaque buildup. A majority of your appointment will be talking with you about your child’s oral care. We can provide you with tips on how to properly brush their teeth and what you can do to avoid cavities. We will ask you about teething as well as any oral habits your child has, such as thumb sucking or tongue thrusting. We will take the time to go over your questions, too. After your appointment is over, we will get your child set up for their next preventive care visit.