The first dental visit is an important milestone in a child’s life. It starts them on the right track to a lifetime of dental health. If you’re a first time parent, you may be wondering when you should take your child to the dentist for the first time. You may be surprised, because the first dental visit should be earlier than you think.
Best Age For the First Dental Exam
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, children should have their first dental exam within 6 months of the eruption of their first tooth or by age one. This means professional dental care should begin in infancy.
Why Should the First Dental Visit Be So Early?
Many parents wonder why they need to take their baby to the dentist so early. There are many reasons for early dental care:
- Assess current dental health. Any teeth that have erupted and are showing above the gum line should be evaluated. It is never too early for tooth decay to occur.
- Assess current oral health. It is also important for the dentist to check the soft tissues of your baby’s mouth, including the gums. Even when there are not many teeth in place yet, the gums can still develop infection.
- Clean any existing teeth. If possible, any existing teeth should be cleaned, as long as it can be done without causing any stress or fear. No force or pressure to comply; just kind and gentle encouragement.
- Introduce your child to the experience. The goal of the first appointment is to introduce your child to the experience of going to the dentist. When the first experience is positive, it helps your child develop a positive association with dental care. Each consecutive visit every 6 months will reinforce the concept.
What if My Child Has No Teeth By Age One?
The average age for teeth to erupt is between 6 and 12 months. Parents are sometimes concerned if the first tooth hasn’t come in by their child’s first birthday. There is no reason to worry, because babies develop at different rates. It is still a good idea to make an appointment for a dental examination in case there is a problem preventing the teeth from erupting.
Babies get teeth at different ages due primarily to genetics. Interestingly, the sooner your baby’s first tooth comes in, the sooner they tend to lose their first tooth later in childhood.
How Should I Care For My Baby’s Teeth and Gums?
From birth you should clean your baby’s gums with a clean washcloth once a day. Once they are a few months old, you can use a silicone finger toothbrush to clean their gums. After the eruption of the first tooth, use a soft bristled infant toothbrush and a tiny dab of fluoride toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice) to brush any teeth that are visible above the gums. You should also brush the gum tissue where there are not yet any teeth showing. This should keep your baby’s teeth and gums healthy between dental visits.
Emerson Dental Provides Pediatric Dentistry
Emerson Dental provides pediatric dentistry for children beginning with the first appointment when they are around a year old. We strive to establish a positive relationship with your child from the start so that they feel comfortable going to the dentist and having their teeth cleaned and examined. Our doctors and staff provide compassionate, gentle dental care for all patients from the youngest to the oldest.
Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.