Kids’ First Dental Visit: FAQs

Though children’s first teeth are temporary, that does not mean kids should not visit the dentist at a young age. Dental hygiene is something that should be enforced early on, in order to develop the habits that will lead to healthy teeth for the rest of their lives.

When should children have their first dental visit?

The accepted wisdom is that a child should have their first dental visit either at one year of age or at least within six months of the appearance of the first tooth — not just a bump in the gums: the full cutting of the first tooth.

How to prepare the child

If the child is around one year of age, it can be difficult to communicate what is going to happen beforehand. Maintaining a positive tone is key, as is understanding that they may lose their cool and throw a fit at some point. Just remember that the child is scared and uncomfortable and has no way of understanding what is happening. Having a treat or toy ready for after the visit is key for soothing purposes.

If the child is older, simply talk to them about what is going to happen. Maybe even show them a cartoon with a friendly dentist, something that will make the process more familiar. Again, staying happy and upbeat is the most important part.

Try to avoid setting up the appointment during standard nap or meal times as well, to reduce grumpiness.

What happens in the first visit?

Honestly, not much. The dentist is going to examine the teeth, the gums and the mouth in general, making sure everything is ship-shape (which it most likely will be). However, if the dentist does discover a problem (or a future problem), they can recommend treatment that will reduce or eliminate the potential harm.

The dentist will focus on education, both for the parents and the child: proper ways to brush, how often, what kind of toothpastes and rinses to use and the like. The dentist will also let you know if fluoride is needed; it is not always a given because too much fluoride can create spots on baby teeth and actually do unintended damage.

Will my child be alone with the dentist?

That is a good question, and it depends on the parent, the child and the dentist. If the parent would rather be in the room, that can usually be arranged (and encouraged). The parent being in close proximity to the child, holding their hand, can help sooth the child during this new experience.

However, if the parent and dentist are looking to build a long-term relationship with the child and dentist, it may be wise to leave the child alone and to wait in another room. Oddly enough, sometimes children are at their best behavior when their parents are not around. Again, this is dependent on everyone involved and can usually be negotiated.

Do not fear the first dental visit

A first dental visit can be scary, both for parent and child alike. Consider these tips and answers to help you navigate the first dental visit with as little pain and as few tears as possible.

Are you considering your kid's first dental visit in the Richmond area? Get more first dental visit information at

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