When your little one gets their first tooth, there’s another milestone not far off on the horizon: your baby’s first dental visit. When should a baby have their first dental visit? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children see a dentist by age one. We know this might seem young and the thought of bringing an infant to the dentist’s office can be a little overwhelming. Yet, babies can get cavities as soon as their first tooth erupts and these early visits are important for helping kids build a rapport with their dentist and get used to the office, which makes future appointments easier.
We promise, as a Brooklyn dentist for kids, we’re pros at putting kids of all ages at ease, including babies and toddlers, and we’ll make sure their check-up is quick, positive and painless for you both. Yet you might still have some questions about what to expect. Will my baby sit on my lap? Is dental cleaning done for children at their first appointment? We’ve got you covered. While we don’t use a one-size-fits-all approach to the first appointment and we’ll let your infant or toddler set the pace, in general, here is what happens at your baby’s first dental visit:
1. Receive a Warm Welcome
At your child’s first dental visit, or any visit, they’ll receive a warm welcome from our friendly team members. To speed things up, you can fill out our new patient forms online before you come into the office. Under normal circumstances, and at some point in the future, if you arrive early, you and your kiddo can unwind in our bright, kid-friendly reception area and read books or play with our awesome toys. Now, to keep patients safe, we’re limiting patients in our waiting area and we’ll get you right back for your first dentist appointment. Regardless, the Bitesize Pediatric Dentistry team members will greet your child and make them feel comfortable from the moment they walk in.
2. Head Back to the Treatment Area
One of the advantages of pediatric dentistry is everything at the office is typically designed just for kids and our practice is no different. A dental hygienist will take you and your child back to a comfy, colorful treatment room. It will depend on your child’s age but for a baby’s first dentist appointment, we may have your little one sit on your lap during the exam, while for a first dental visit at age 4, for example, your child can sit in the chair on their own.
Once you’re settled into the treatment area, we’ll get started by giving your kiddo a super cool pair of sunglasses that they can wear to protect their eyes during the visit. While this is usually the point an adult would get a dental x-ray, it’s rare we’d take dental x-rays at a first visit for a baby, unless they’re absolutely necessary.
3. The Exam
Your Williamsburg or Park Slope pediatric dentist will introduce themselves and perform a quick but thorough exam. Our dentists always tell kids exactly what they’re going to do in kid-friendly terms, show them any instruments they’ll be using and make sure they’re on board before we start. When your child is ready, the tooth doctor will count and examine your child’s little teeth, look at their gums and jaws, and evaluate their growth and development.
4. The Cleaning (Depending on Your Child)
Is dental cleaning done for children? It depends. For a one-year-old baby’s first dental visit, we may not perform a cleaning and, as we said, we really let your child guide the visit. For a first dental visit at age 2, 3 or 4, we may do a gentle cleaning. Again, we’ll use behavioral techniques like tell-show-do and non-threatening language to describe tools (tooth tickler, anyone?) so kids feel relaxed and comfortable. When a dental cleaning is done for children, we floss the teeth, remove any hardened plaque and then polish their pearly whites.
5. Chat With the Pediatric Dentist
Once the exam and cleaning are done, we’ll wrap up your baby’s first dental visit by filling you in on things like what you can expect as the rest of their little teeth erupt, when to stop oral habits like thumb sucking or pacifier use, how to brush and floss their teeth, as well as tips for your child’s dental health in general. If you have any questions, we’ll be more than happy to answer them. We’ll also let you know when your child should come back for their second visit, usually in six months.
Of course, a toddler or baby’s first dentist appointment wouldn’t be complete without some goodies, including a Bitesize balloon. When the appointment is over and your child has prizes in hand, you’ll head on your way knowing your child’s little teeth are healthy.
Now that you know what happens at your baby’s first dental visit, we hope the idea of bringing your child in for a check-up is less intimidating. We make the experience exciting and fun so that kids actually like coming for visits. To get started, schedule your child’s first dentist appointment at Bitesize Pediatric Dentistry in Park Slope or Williamsburg today!