Ideally, children should have their first visit with a dentist by their first birthday. It helps to establish a relationship with a dentist early so that it is part of a child’s normal routine. If your child has any risk factors for tooth decay, the dentist will be able to tell and make suggestions on how to protect your child’s teeth.
If your child does not have a dentist, talk to his or her medical doctor about how to prevent tooth decay and how to find a dentist.
Your baby’s first dental visit
You can prepare your child for the first visit to the dentist by:
- Reading a book about going to the dentist
- Watching a video about going to the dentist
- Visiting the office before the official appointment to meet the staff and look around
- Allowing your child to bring a favorite toy for comfort
Remember that although many adults have fears about going to a dentist, most children do not. Be sure to talk to your child in a positive way about his or her first dental visit.
What will happen at the first dental visit?
A younger child may sit on your lap during the dental visit as follows:
- The parent will sit facing the dentist or dental hygienist.
- The child will lie facing you with his or her head in the dentist or dental hygienist’s lap.
- You will be able to hold hands with and talk to your child.
- Your child may fuss or cry, but that is ok. It makes it easier to see inside the baby’s mouth. The exam will be over in just a few minutes.
If your child is older, he or she may sit in the dental chair for a gentle exam.
During your visit, the dentist or hygienist may:
- Clean your child’s teeth
- Provide a fluoride treatment
- Perform an x-ray
- Make suggestions on how to best care for your child’s mouth
- Say that you should come back in six months for another dental checkup
How to find a dentist
Not all dentists will agree to see a child under age 3 years. To find one that does, you can:
- Ask your child’s medical doctor
- Ask friends and family
- Ask your own dentist if he/she will see your young child for a dental checkup
- Call your insurance company for recommendations
- Click on the state link to find dentists willing to care for you children: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.
Finding a dentist is positive step in creating a lifetime of healthy habits. Look today for a dentist who will see your child!