How To Take Your Baby to the Dentist for the First Time

Take your baby to the dentist

What you need to know before you take your baby to the dentist.

Taking your baby to the dentist for the first time can be a daunting, yet exciting, milestone for both you and your little one. To make this experience smooth and successful, choosing the right pediatric dentist who can provide a comfortable and safe environment for your child’s dental care is crucial. But what is the right age to take your baby for their first dental visit? And how do you help your baby practice opening their mouth wide and saying “Ahh!” and practice brushing their teeth?

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, it’s best to bring your child in to meet the dentist as soon as they cut their first tooth, or by their first birthday, whichever comes first. And don’t worry; we’ve got all the tips to help make that first dental visit quite a bit easier.

7 things to prepare for your baby’s first dental visit.

As parents, we have many first milestones for our child’s care. And the first trip to the dentist is just one of them. Here are a few things that can help make the experience easy-peasy, setting you and your baby up for a lifetime of excellent oral health and pearly white teeth.

1. Have your list of questions ready in advance. 

Babies can be a handful, and coming up with questions on the fly while trying to keep your baby in the chair, can sometimes work against one another. Preparing a list of questions in advance is beneficial. Here are some common questions that parents often ask during that first visit. Add these questions to more of your own, and you’ll be off to the races.

  • What are the best practices for cleaning and caring for my baby’s teeth at home?
  • How often should my baby visit the dentist for check-ups, and what should I expect during these visits?
  • What are the signs and symptoms of tooth decay, and how can I prevent it?
  • What are some common teething remedies that you recommend for my baby?
  • Can you recommend any dietary changes or supplements to promote healthy teeth in my baby?

2. Schedule the appointment for the right time of day.

Any new parent will tell you that your schedule is often not your own with babies. So, you must schedule your baby’s first dental appointment at the right time to ensure a comfortable and stress-free experience. Look for openings when your baby is generally refreshed, after a nap and feeding, or when they are in their best mood. This can make the visit more enjoyable for both you and your baby. 

3. Bring comfort items and toys to hold your baby’s interest throughout the visit. 

Bringing your baby’s favorite toys and comfort items, such as their favorite blanket, can help ease any anxiety or stress they may feel at the appointment. Familiar items provide a sense of security and help them feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar environment. Additionally, these items can distract during the dental evaluation, helping keep your baby calm and relaxed. As a reminder, even though the dentist’s office is clean and sanitary, be sure to bring items that can be easily sanitized or washed after the appointment. Kids drop toys, chew on them, and more during their visits.

4. Talk to your baby about what to expect. 

This might seem like a stretch, but be sure to talk to your baby, on their level, about what to expect at the appointment. Trust us; babies understand far more than we think. But also, getting into the habit of being upfront and transparent with our babies can set us up for success later. This is when you can start showing your baby how to say “ahh,” and tell them about their teeth and gums by counting teeth, etc.

Give your baby a gentle gum massage as part of the process of getting ready for the dentist. Letting them know that it is safe for mom, dad, and the dentist to put their hands in their mouth will make it seem less invasive.

5. Know what to expect from the appointment. 

At Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry, parents can expect a kind and compassionate dental staff who are excited to meet their baby. The first dental visit for a baby is relatively short, lasting between 15 to 30 minutes. During the visit, the best pediatric dentist in Salem will check your baby’s teeth, gums, and other areas of their mouth. While there are no professional cleanings or imaging during this visit, please know that we may use a regular toothbrush to clean your baby’s teeth. And your baby can sit in your lap, providing them (and you) a sense of comfort and security during the dental evaluation. 

Rest assured that you’ll have plenty of time to ask the questions you prepared. We’ll also discuss topics relevant to your baby, such as weaning, lip and tongue-ties, bottle feeding and breastfeeding, solid foods, pacifier use/thumb sucking, and toothbrushing at home. We’ll be happy to provide information and guidance on these topics and any other concerns you may have and this is a great opportunity for us all to get to know each other, establishing a good relationship that will benefit their child’s dental health in the long term. 

6. Don’t let the dental care end after leaving the office.

Though it might seem like you just checked a box after you get home from your baby’s first dentist trip, it doesn’t end there. Continue with your baby’s oral hygiene routine at home.

  • Clean your baby’s gums twice daily with a clean, soft cloth—once in the morning after the first feeding and again before bed. This will help remove bacteria and sugars that can lead to cavities.
  • If your baby’s teeth have started coming in, brush them twice daily using a soft, small-bristled toothbrush and plain water.
  • Consider talking to your dentist or doctor about applying fluoride varnish to your child’s teeth as soon as their first tooth appears (don’t worry, we’ll bring this up to you when the time comes). This can help strengthen and protect their teeth against decay.
  • Schedule your baby’s next appointment after six months and every six months thereafter.

7. Relax and celebrate.

If you’ve gotten this far, it’s time to put your feet up and relax, at least for a moment or two. Taking your baby to the dentist for the first time is a big milestone and a great way to set them on the path to good oral health. And don’t just celebrate for yourself, either. Celebrating with your baby can help your child associate the dentist with a positive experience, making future visits less stressful and more enjoyable. The entire process can help reinforce the importance of regular dental check-ups and encourage you to continue prioritizing your child’s dental health

Is it time for your baby’s first dental appointment?

If the time has come for your baby’s first dental visit and the appointment isn’t on the calendar yet, now is the time to schedule it. Request an appointment today with the best dentist for babies in Salem, Oregon. We can’t wait to meet you and your baby. Anchors away!