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  • Writer's pictureDr. Michael Klausner

Baby's First Dental Visit

Your Baby's First Dental Visit – Valley Arts Dental, West Orange, NJ

As a father of a toddler and newborn, I am passionate about beginning a child’s happy dental journey in the proper way. I hear all too often from my patients about poor dental experiences during their childhood years that have stuck with them and have greatly impacted their feelings toward dentistry as adults. At the same time, positive dental experiences - especially the routine checkup visits early on - can create a foundational comfort with dentists, doctors, and other unfamiliar settings.

When should my child’s first dental visit be?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child go to the dentist by age one or within six months after the first tooth erupts. Primary teeth typically begin growing in around six months of age.

Why should my child’s first dental visit be so early?

The AAPD finds this early period to be the ideal time to begin your child’s dental journey, as early detection and intervention are crucial to overall health. According to the AAPD, “a study in the journal Pediatrics showed that children who have their first dental visit before age one have 40 percent lower dental costs in their first five years than children who do not, due to the cost of dental and medical procedures that may be necessary as a result of poor oral health.”

Is this a new recommendation?

Many parents are surprised to see such an early age recommended, having thought instead to wait into their children’s toddler years to bring them to the denist. In fact, the recommendation for a child’s first dental visit to occur at or before age one has been the standard since 2001. Once dentists understood cavities to be a chronic bacterial disease with a behavioral component, the paradigm shifted and dentists began prioritizing early prevention.

What can I expect at my child's first visit?

There are three primary purposes of this visit:

1: Establishing Comfort: Introducing your little one to the dentist and warming them up to the dental office setting, in a brief and relaxed introductory visit.

2: Risk Assessment & Anticipatory Guidance : Providing oral hygiene and feeding instructions, home care, and other recommendations for a healthy mouth.

3: Oral Examination: Examining your child to ensure there are no early signs of dental developmental anomalies, early childhood cavities, or other findings requiring early intervention or close monitoring.

Are there any pointers or ways I should prepare for my child's first dental visit?

· Schedule your child’s visit during a time that sets you up for success - i.e. the time of day when your child tends to be the least fussy.

· Feel free to bring your child to one of your own appointments, or if you know you are going to be in the area, you can even give us a call and bring your little one in just to look around prior to their first dental visit .

· Read a story about visiting the dentist or even role play!

· When talking to your child, keep the words light and positive. Although parents may mean well by telling their child not to be scared or that it won't hurt, those words actually do just the opposite and have been shown to increase apprehension.

· Tell us about your child and any special needs they may have.

· When the time comes to visit us, let your child bring a favorite toy.

· If your child becomes upset during this visit and we need to reschedule for another time, that is OK! We will try again on another day.

· If the visit goes well, positive reinforcement (such as stickers, toys, etc.) and praise works well.

If you are looking for more information on this topic, here are some helpful links with additional information, or you can call our West Orange Office anytime.

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