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The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child have their first dentist appointment by age one or within six months after the first tooth erupts. Is it time to make an appointment for your child?

What to expect at your child’s first dentist appointment

Many parents schedule the child’s first visit at their own dentist, but you may want to reconsider. A pediatric dentist has additional training in caring for children’s oral health. He or she will be prepared to deal with any wiggling or fussing. The pediatric dentist’s office will also have a child-friendly staff and a waiting room with entertaining books and toys.

Expect the first dentist appointment to be more of a meet and greet. The visit will probably be relatively short. Perhaps 15-20 minutes; enough time for your child to meet and become familiar with the dentist, the chair, and the tools.

If the child is doing well, the dentist may be able to do a more in-depth exam. The first exam could, but may not always, include the following:

  • Counting of existing teeth
  • Examination of the teeth, bite, and gums
  • Gentle polishing of teeth
  • Discussion of correct brushing techniques
  • Question/answer between parent and dentist
  • Assessment of the need for fluoride

At the end of the first dentist appointment, you can schedule a return visit. Most pediatric dentists prefer to see children every 6 months. This allows them to monitor changes as the child grows and to get the child more comfortable with visiting the dentist.