Your child’s first dentist visit is a big milestone in their life—here’s how to prepare for it!
Your child’s smile lights up your world, and as a parent, you want to do everything possible to ensure their smile is bright and healthy. The first step towards investing in your child’s smile now and for the future starts with their first visit with a pediatric dentist.
Unlike general or family dentists, pediatric dentists focus solely on providing expert dental care just for kids. In addition to their expertise in kids’ oral health, pediatric dentists like Dr. Shea are also pros at interacting with children in a manner that boosts their confidence and engages their interest in caring for their teeth!
If you’re considering booking your child’s first appointment with Dr. Shea, here’s everything you need to know for the big day.
When to schedule your child’s first dental appointment.
Before we dive into what to expect during your child’s first dentist visit, let’s go over when parents should book that first appointment.
Dr. Shea highly recommends parents follow the American Dental Association (ADA) and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) guidelines, which advise that a child’s first dental appointment should happen within six months of them getting their first tooth or by their first birthday. After the initial dental visit, you can schedule your kids’ future appointments every six months, unless Dr. Shea recommends more frequent checkups.
How to prepare your child for their first visit with a dentist.
Before your child’s first dental visit, it’s a good idea to help prepare them for the big day. The smoother their first few visits go, the more positive a relationship they’ll develop with their dentist over time.
For babies and toddlers, you can help prepare them by getting them used to their mouths being examined. Take a look inside their mouths and gently feel around their gums with your finger or an infant toothbrush. Keep these sessions short, upbeat, and try to make it a fun game!
For older toddlers and kids, let them know about their new dentist and explain how a dentist is a helpful friend who wants them to have healthy teeth. Go over what may happen during the appointment and be cautious of the lingo you use. You want to keep a positive tone and be careful to not refer to the dentist or dental procedures in a way that may make your child think they have a reason to worry.
Ask your child if they have any questions and do your best to answer them. If your child does tell you they’re afraid, acknowledge this emotion and reassure them. Let them know it’s natural to feel a little worried, but reiterate that there’s no reason to feel afraid of their new dentist or the dental team.
What happens during your child’s first appointment?
Your child’s first dental appointment will be fairly simple and usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes.
There are two primary goals for a first visit:
- For your child to meet their new dentist and the dental team, and begin to develop a trusting relationship with them.
- For the dentist to get an idea of your child’s current oral health and to check for signs of trouble.
The bulk of the first appointment will be a thorough oral examination.
After introducing herself to you and your child, Dr. Shea will look inside your child’s mouth once they feel comfortable. She’ll take a close look at their teeth and gums as well as evaluate their bite alignment and jaw structure. For older children, Dr. Shea may also take x-rays.
During the examination, Dr. Shea will explain what she’s seeing and take note of any signs of an oral health issue. If Dr. Shea has found a problem, such as a cavity, she’ll go over what treatment options are available.
Dr. Shea will also go over in detail how to care for your child’s teeth at home.
Dental appointments are really important, but at-home oral hygiene is just as vital to your child’s long-term oral health.
Dr. Shea will explain what type of oral hygiene routine is best suited for your child based on their age. For babies who are just getting their teeth, Dr. Shea will cover how to clean their gums and budding teeth. For toddlers, you’ll learn what oral care products to use and how to introduce teeth brushing.
If your child is already learning to brush their own teeth, Dr. Shea will have them practice brushing and flossing so you and your child can get refreshed on proper technique together.
Don’t hesitate to ask us any questions you or your child might have.
There’s nothing Dr. Shea and her team love more than answering any question our patients’ inquisitive minds can think up. Encourage your child to ask us any questions they might have about their teeth or about dentists in general.
Parents should also feel free to ask us any questions they might have about their child’s oral health, whether it’s about picking the right kids’ toothpaste or what a smile-friendly diet looks like.
Ready to book your child’s first appointment with Dr. Shea?
Once you and your child are ready to meet Dr. Shea and her team, all you need to do is call our office or fill out our online appointment request form. Be sure to fill out the New Patient forms before their appointment, if you can to streamline your visit.
We look forward to meeting you and your family!