Preparing for your child’s first dental visit.
From first giggles to first foods, infancy is studded with milestones and new experiences—for both you and your baby! Your baby’s first tooth, which will typically erupt when they are around six months old, is one of those firsts worth paying attention to for so many reasons. Along with the pure wonder of seeing your baby grow in front of your eyes, the first tooth indicates that your child is ready to begin the good oral hygiene habits that will maintain a healthy, beautiful smile for the rest of their life.
When should my baby see a dentist for the first time?
To support your baby’s immediate and lifelong oral health, the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that you bring your baby to see a pediatric dentist by their first birthday or within six months of their first tooth erupting (whichever comes first).
For most infants, their lower front teeth (called incisors) will erupt between six and 10 months of age, followed by the upper incisors within the next several weeks. If your child has reached their first birthday and still doesn’t have their first tooth, don’t panic! Every child’s development is unique, so there isn’t necessarily a standard timeframe. That said, there are some underlying factors that can cause late teething, such as thick gums (fibrosis), hormone issues, inadequate nutrition, or certain medical conditions. At the 12-month visit, your pediatric dentist will evaluate your baby’s mouth to make sure there are no underlying issues.
Your baby’s first dental visit also enables your child to create early positive associations with dentistry that will carry over throughout their lives. You can further support a positive experience for you and your child by choosing a pediatric practice that you can make your child’s dental home from infancy to adolescence. Pediatric dental offices, such as We Make Kids Smile, specialize in creating positive dental experiences for children and use their expertise in child development to cater to a child’s unique oral and overall health needs through every stage.
What to expect during your child’s first visit.
As it’s a new experience for both you and your baby, know it’s normal to feel nervous about your child’s first dental visit, especially if you experience any level of dental anxiety yourself. You can also rest assured that your pediatric dental team is highly skilled at working with little smiles and anxious parents alike, and are available to hear your concerns, answer your questions, and create the best experience for you and your baby.
During the first visit, your child’s pediatric dentist will carefully review their health history and answer any questions you may have about your child’s smile. During the exam, you’ll hold your baby in the dental chair while your child’s pediatric dentist evaluates their jaws and any teeth to ensure healthy development and the absence of any issues, such as injury or tooth decay. Your child’s pediatric dental team will then carefully clean any teeth and provide age-appropriate guidance on how to tend to your child’s oral health between visits.
At-Home Oral Hygiene Tips for Healthy Baby Teeth
Though they’ll eventually fall out, your child’s baby teeth (also called primary or deciduous teeth) are essential for their development and oral health. Your child’s front teeth make it possible for them to bite into their food and learn how to articulate sounds, while their back teeth enable them to chew properly. Your child’s baby teeth are also the placeholders that will help guide the alignment of your child’s permanent (adult) teeth. Along with routine dental visits that start early, you can protect your child’s baby teeth from the damage of early childhood caries (also called baby bottle tooth decay) with these daily at-home oral hygiene tips.
- Wipe your baby’s gums. To prevent an overgrowth of bacteria and keep their oral tissues healthy, moisten a clean, soft cloth or piece of gauze and wipe your baby’s gums after each feeding.
- Brush their tiny teeth. Once your child has one or more teeth, use a soft-bristled baby toothbrush to clean their teeth twice daily to prevent early childhood caries. Brushing their teeth before bed is especially important to prevent sugars from breast milk, formula, or food from staying on your child’s teeth overnight.
- Avoid saliva transmission. To prevent bacteria from your mouth entering your baby’s delicate mouth, avoid sharing utensils with your baby or rinsing a dropped pacifier or toy with your saliva. Instead, always provide your child with clean utensils and rinse their toys and pacifiers with clean running water.
We Make Kids Smile aims to create a positive dental experience for your child and you from the very first visit. Along with providing a caring, kid-friendly environment, we are passionate about empowering you as a parent to know what to expect between visits and equipping you with practical support that will help you prevent common oral health issues and cater to your child’s changing physical, emotional, and psychological needs.
To learn more about our comprehensive approach to pediatric dentistry or to schedule your child’s first visit at our Waldorf or Prince Frederick locations, contact our office to schedule an appointment today.