One of the most exciting things I get to do as a pediatric dentist is give parents and their sweet kids a great first visit to the dentist. Baby visits are my very favorite because they really help to set your child up for healthy habits for life. Here are some commonly asked questions to help you prepare for your child’s first visit.
The most common question I get asked is “when should my child have their first dental appointment?” That’s an easy one—1st visit by their 1st birthday. We expect our one-year-olds will have anywhere from 0-12 teeth. The purpose of seeing them at this age is to start getting them used to coming to the dentist (we hope this will be a life-long habit!), and even more importantly, we want to share lots of great information to help your little one grow up cavity-free. Studies have shown that when we can share tips with you at this age, your child is less likely to have cavities by the time they start school! That translates into beautiful smiles for those precious kindergarten class pictures!
Let’s say your baby isn’t a baby anymore, but they have never been to the dentist before. Should you be embarrassed about that? No way! Old-school pediatricians still tell parents they first dental visit should be at age 3, and sometimes life happens and kids are school-aged when you realize they need their first dental appointment! At our office, that’s no problem. The goals are the same: give your kid a really easy, positive experience and share some great information about oral health with you. In fact, I love seeing our older kiddos because they are so curious about everything, and it’s so much fun to show them the cool things we have at the dentist. They love the aquarium in our office, they are fascinated by our moving dental chair, and they never want to leave our game-filled waiting room.
How should I prepare for my child’s first visit?
Before I had my own baby, I didn’t realize just how much effort it took to get out of the house 1.) on time, 2.) with everyone bathed and clothed, and 3.) with teeth brushed and diapers changed. While we always appreciate our moms and dads showing up on time, I’m here to tell you not to worry about the rest. We’re moms here—we get it! So, what should you worry about before your baby’s first visit? Nothing! All you have to do is make the appointment, and we will make the rest easy.
If you really want to go above and beyond, there are tons of great picture books for kids of all ages about going to the dentist. We recommend Maisy, Charley, and the Wobbly Tooth or Sugarbug Doug. You can also read below for what to expect at your child’s first visit and help them to understand what we will be doing.
What should I expect during my child’s appointment?
When I tell parents about the one-year-old visit, I usually hear something like, “Doc, there’s no way my one-year-old is going to sit in the chair and let you look in his/her mouth.” You’re right! I would never expect a baby to sit by him or herself, or even make it through an appointment quietly. You will be with your baby the whole time, you will get to hold them in your lap for the exam, and I will sing ABCs to them while they “sing” back to me. We make it a priority to be as efficient as possible, so the exam and cleaning won’t take much longer than 2 minutes. Most parents tell me, “Wow! That was so much easier than I was expecting,” which is a great compliment to me and my team!
What should I do after my child’s first visit?
At Scuba Smiles for Kids, we have a great “No Cavity Kids Club,” where we put your child’s cavity-free smile on our cork board and enter them to win a prize every month between their appointments. That means they have 6 chances to win a prize every time they have an appointment with no cavities! This is a great incentive to keep them brushing. We also send every new patient home with a timer to help kids learn how long they should be brushing their teeth every morning and evening. Be sure to follow Scuba Smiles for Kids on Facebook or Instagram to stay up to date with our dental tips and tricks, posted every Thursday.
I consider it a joy and privilege to be any child’s very first dentist. I look forward to meeting you and your sweet babies soon! -Dr. Farmer