When should I take my child for their first dental appointment?

SIM Eau Claire

One of the best parts of being a parent is experiencing all the “firsts”–the first smile, the first word, and before you know it, the first birthday.

When your child hits this special milestone, be sure to make their first dental appointment part of the tradition as well. After the birthday cake is smashed and the “Happy 1st Birthday” banner comes down, it’s time to visit Smiles in Motion Pediatric Dentistry!

Isn’t age one too early?

Absolutely not. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, all kids should see a dentist within six months of their first tooth coming in or when they turn one–whichever comes first.

While every child develops at their own pace, most kids will have somewhere between 2-4 teeth by their first birthday. If your child has less, that’s okay. The age one visit is still essential to ensure that your child doesn’t have any signs of tooth or gum decay and that their teeth are developing properly.

Consider this: in less than two years (by age three), your child will likely have all their baby teeth already. There will be some immense growth and change in your child’s mouth during their first years of life, so let’s start them off on the right path.

What to expect at the age one appointment

At Smiles in Motion Pediatric Dentistry, we want to make your child’s first trip to the dentist as fun and memorable as we can. Our goal is to have this visit be the start of healthy oral health habits that last a lifetime.

Of course, we know that your one-year-old probably won’t remember this first visit. But you will–and this is where the relationship with your pediatric dentist begins.

Our doctors and team take extra care to make sure that you and your child are comfortable throughout their visit. During the appointment, we will:

  • Gently clean and examine your child’s teeth
  • Check your child’s mouth for any signs of decay
  • Show you how to clean your child’s teeth at home (the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends using a very small drop of fluoride–about the size of a grain of rice–on a soft toothbrush)
  • Share any concerns about your child’s oral development
  • Answer any questions you may have

Sitting knee-to-knee

Your one-year-old may become fussy or shed a tear or two during their exam, which is probably harder on the parent than anyone else! Don’t worry–at Smiles in Motion Pediatric Dentistry, we are fully prepared for tears and have a few tricks up our sleeves to stop them! That’s also why we offer knee-to-knee exams for patients (and parents) who aren’t ready for the dentist chair just yet.

If you wish, you can sit knee-to-knee with the doctor, allowing your child to comfortably lay back between the two of you in a safe and nurturing environment. If your child still struggles, our team is well-trained to handle their tears with compassion and understanding. This is one of many reasons why we recommend having your child visit a pediatric dentist over a general or family dentist, especially at such a young age.

The perks of a pediatric dentist

After graduating from dental school, pediatric dentists complete an additional 2-3 years of specialized training including courses in child psychology and child development. Just as pediatricians understand the medical needs of children, pediatric dentists understand the dental needs of children. In fact, you can think of Smiles in Motion Pediatric Dentistry as pediatricians for your child’s teeth.

From the moment your child is born, their mouth is constantly growing and changing. Pediatric dentists are trained to constantly evaluate these changes and treat any developing issues that could affect them in the future. Cavities and tooth decay are a problem at any age but especially before age six, so we keep a close eye out for those as well.

Beyond our dental expertise, perhaps the greatest benefit of visiting a pediatric dentist is our kid expertise. We totally get kids, and we understand how they think and feel. At Smiles in Motion Pediatric Dentistry, kids are always treated with patience, empathy, and joy in an environment designed to make visiting the dentist fun!

Your child’s early visits to the dentist also set the tone for how they view their oral health – so it’s very important that we get it right. As the saying goes, we only get one chance to make a first impression. And we want that impression to last, so your child feels positive about caring for their smile for years to come.

Schedule your child’s appointment today

Your child’s first year of life will likely fly by. Before you know it, it will be time to make their first dental appointment. When that day comes, Smiles in Motion Pediatric Dentistry is here for you.

We’re so excited to meet you! To schedule an appointment, contact us today.