When is the best time to take my child to their first general dentistry visit? According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), they recommend visiting the dentist at 6 to 12 months of age, or after several baby teeth have erupted.
The reason for this early recommendation is to educate on baby bottle tooth decay, as well as feeding habits, cleaning teeth, thumb sucking and pacifier habits. Overall, it is good for the dentist to understand your baby’s habits, but also educate you on how those habits can affect their teeth later in life.
Getting Ready for the First Visit
You want to make sure that your child’s first experience with a dentist is a pleasant one. So many people develop anxiety when visiting a doctor or dentist, and it is always good to make sure your child is not scared to meet these types of professionals.
It is so important to remember not to allow your own anxieties or fears to show. So many adults have had unpleasant experiences with the dentist, and you want to make sure that your own fears do not hinder your child’s experience, no matter what age they are.
It is best to schedule the appointment at a time of day when your baby will be alert and fresh. If your child is a bit older, talk to them about where you are going and what to expect on their first visit. Even if your child is one or two, they will listen and take in some of what you are saying.
What to Expect
When visiting the dentist for the first time with your child they will take a complete medical history. This will help them understand any issues your child may have experienced and how it may impact their dental care now and in the future. Make sure you answer all their questions thoroughly, as the smallest details may impact their dental care.
Each visit to the dentist could be different for your child. Just makes sure that you are always open with your dentist and let them know the first sign of distress or fear your child exhibits about visiting the dentist. This will help ensure all future visits are successful for your child. Many times, catching anxiety in its tracks will ensure your dentist is able to work with your child to overcome any fears they may be feeling.
The first visit will last approximately 30 to 45 minutes. The dentist will examine the teeth, jaws, bite, gums and oral tissues. This will help them monitor growth and development. If the dentist feels it is needed, they may do a gentle cleaning to help remove any plaque, tartar or stains that are present. They may also show you how to properly care for your baby’s teeth at home. This may include cleaning and flossing depending on your child’s age. No x-rays will be needed, as baby teeth will fall out.
Make your child’s first general dentistry visit a pleasant one. Good dental hygiene is so important and can help prevent health issues in the future.
Gernot Winkler, DDS, is dedicated to serving clients with general and family, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry. Located in Fallbrook, Dr. Winkler sees patients throughout San Diego County including neighboring cities such as Fallbrook, Bonsall, Rainbow, and Temecula.