How to Prepare for Your Child’s First Dental Visit

Raising a child can be an intimidating experience that comes with an infinite number of questions about raising your child safely and healthily. Today we are here to answer a few questions about helping your child grow up to have a strong, healthy smile.

What should I be doing at home before my child’s first dentist visit?

The key to a strong and healthy smile starts at home, and we have a saying about this: It doesn’t matter how you take care of their teeth, as long as you do it from the beginning. This includes taking care of your child’s gums before their teeth come in. You want to make sure that you are cleaning their gums with a clean, damp cloth after every feeding to create a clean and healthy environment to welcome the teeth when they come in.

Once your child’s teeth come in, you will want to transition from a cloth to a toothbrush. Toothbrushes come in all sizes, from toddler to adult. Find the correct size for your child and add a small smear of fluoridated toothpaste to it. As your child gets older, you will want to increase the amount of toothpaste you use. Around 2-3 years old, you should be using a pea-sized amount on their toothbrush. You’ll want to help your child brush their teeth until they are 7-8 years old. It is imperative to brush their teeth after each time they eat, especially if the food includes hard, sticky foods such as fruit roll-ups, fruit snacks – including gummy vitamins, and sweetened drinks or juices.

When should I start taking my child to the dentist?

We recommend your child visits the dentist by their first birthday or within six months of their first tooth growing in. This helps prevent cavities and promotes a smile that will stay healthy for life. If your child is over a year old and has not visited the dentist yet, that is alright. Bring them in and get them started with their visits. It is better to start the process now than to continue waiting.

What happens at the first visit to the dentist?

The first trip to the dentist is semi-informal. It involves a visit with the dentist for an exam and fluoride-only teeth cleaning. They will talk with you about good oral-hygiene habits, and they will answer any questions you have about your child’s smile.  

How do I prepare my child?

We recommend practicing and role-playing your child’s first visit to the dentist before coming in. This can include reading children’s books about going to the dentist, using their stuffed animals and dolls as pretend patients, and having them lay down and practice what will happen on their first visit. Most importantly, you can prepare your child by using positive language. Let them know the dentist is there to help them have a beautiful, healthy smile.  

Lastly, know that it is okay if your child does not act perfectly during their first trip to the dentist. If your infant or toddler wiggles or cries, it is not because you have done something wrong. It is normal to be slightly uncomfortable when doing something for the first time, especially at that age.