Your child's first visit to the dentist

Written by: Flavia Lamberghini

By the time your baby is one year old, he or she could have a single tooth, a mouth full of teeth or even a gummy smile. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that babies see a dentist by age 1.

Children need healthy primary (baby) teeth to eat, speak properly and to guide the permanent teeth into place. Primary teeth generally start to fall by the time the child is six years old and the process ends with the primary molars at age 12.

The first dental visit is usually short and friendly. Depending on your child’s comfort level, you may be asked to hold him while the dentist examines his mouth. The dentist checks for caries (cavities) and takes a look at the gums, jaw and bite. The dentist or dental hygienist may clean your child’s teeth and apply fluoride. The dentist will also talk to you about teething, oral hygiene, diet and habits (e.g. thumbsucking, bottle and pacifier use, etc.) Encourage your child to enjoy his first dental visit and to start a long-lasting friendship with the dental team.

Many parents take their child to their dentist, and this is often a good idea, particularly if your dentist has experience with young children. You may also want to consider taking your child to see a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists are specialized in children’s oral health and have extensive experience in behavioral management.

Based on how your child’s teeth look, the dentist will let you know when to make the next appointment. It’s generally recommended to visit the dentist every six months.

Some dental advice for 1 year olds:

  • Brush your child’s teeth twice a day if he has teeth or wipe his gums with a soft washcloth until teeth erupt.
  • Avoid at-will breastfeeding.
  • Wean the child from the bottle by the first birthday.
  • Don’t put your child to sleep with a bottle filled with anything but water.
  • Let him have diluted juice in a sippy cup (1/2 cup a day) only during meals.
  • Avoid sticky snacks and candies.
  • Comfort your baby through teething gently rubbing his gums with a clean finger or a cool spoon or give him a clean teething ring to chew on.
  • If he uses a pacifier, choose the smallest one (i.e. neonatal), and never dip the pacifier in sugary liquids.
  • And finally, bring your infant in to see the dentist by his first birthday!

Have questions about your child's 1st dentist appointment?  Reach out to Dr. Flavia today! 

Flavia Lamberghini is a DDS, MS, MPH, Board Certified Pediatric Dentist.  Her practice, Apple Dental Care, is located at 3012 W Fullerton Avenue, Chicago IL 60647.  Learn more at www.appledentalcare.org.

Posted on June 11, 2012 at 8:15 PM