When Should My Child Start Visiting the Dentist?

Families have a lot on their plates these days, but even with the hustle and bustle, most parents still strive to teach their children healthy oral health habits. It’s no secret how important dental care is, however, not everyone is aware of the best time to start visiting the dentist and how it can benefit a child’s smile. 

At Smiles of Palmetto Bay, we treat many young patients, and our team has seen firsthand how getting a head start on dental health and care can make a positive difference to a child’s smile as they grow. Do you have a child in this age range? We’d love to meet them! At their initial examination, Dr. Martinez and Dr. Ross will be focusing on getting your child used to the dentist and helping them feel comfortable in our office. To learn more about what you can expect from this first visit, keep reading below!

How old should my child be when they first visit the dentist?

A common question new parents ask is when their child should start visiting the dentist. According to the American Association of Pediatric Dentists, children should go to the dentist for the first time when their baby teeth start to emerge, typically around their first birthday. This may seem early, but getting a head start on oral health is essential to ensure that your child doesn’t have any signs of gum or tooth decay and that their teeth are erupting properly.   

Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease, so it’s important to prioritize oral health from the moment you notice that first tooth. We’ve seen many children come to the dentist for the first time at age 4 or 5 with cavities and tooth decay that’s preventable with the proper care!

When Should My Child Start Visiting the Dentist?

What can I expect at my child’s first dental appointment?

Our team at Smiles of Palmetto Bay works hard to provide your child with a comfortable experience at their first visit. If your child is nervous about their visit, we welcome our patients and their families to come to take a look around to help ease those nerves. On your first visit, you’ll meet our friendly team, get a tour of the office, and spend some time getting to know the environment. 

At your child’s first visit, a dental hygienist will examine and clean their teeth, showing you along the way how you can properly care for their teeth at home. They’ll also talk to you about diet and fluoride needs and suggest oral health care products to ensure a healthy smile from day one. 

What should I expect when the dentist comes in?

After the initial check-up and cleaning with our hygienist, Dr. Martinez or Dr. Ross will come in and get started. They’ll examine your child’s mouth for any signs of tooth decay and go over anything they may find concerning your child’s dental health and development. You’ll also be able to ask any questions you may have. This is a great time to learn about the best ways to keep your child’s smile healthy and happy.

What if my child is older? Is it too late for a healthy smile?

It’s never too late to start teaching your child healthy oral hygiene habits and get on track with regular dental visits! Prevention and maintenance are the top priorities between ages six and 12. If your child doesn’t have any cavities or signs of dental decay, this is what we’ll focus on. As your child gets older, their dentist may suggest preventative dental treatments such as sealants to help keep cavities at bay. 

When your child is around age seven, we may suggest an orthodontic evaluation. This can help our doctors detect any potential issues and prevent or treat them as necessary. Identifying misalignment early on ensures the best chance for a healthy smile long-term. 

Choosing the right dentist for your child

Choosing a pediatric dentist is beneficial for your child for a multitude of reasons. While your general dentist is certainly equipped to care for your child, a children’s dentist has a specialized understanding of how to meet children where they are and provide a comfortable and enjoyable experience. 

Catering to young children is what we do here at Smiles of Palmetto Bay and we love guiding families through healthy oral habits from the start. Scheduling an initial visit with our team will help you feel comfortable and confident with your child’s treatment and care. 

Posterior crossbites

Posterior crossbites can cause crowding in your child’s mouth. They may also cause the jaw to shift from one side to the other. If we happen to catch this issue early on, usually around 7-10  years of age, we sometimes have the option to expand the upper jaw. This can reduce crowding, and open up space for the front teeth to erupt properly. Expansion may also eliminate any shifting that’s present due to a constricted upper jaw.

How to prepare for your child’s first dental appointment

There are a few steps you can take to get your child prepared for their first dental visit, no matter how old they are. Get started by rubbing their gums with a wet washcloth, especially after breastfeeding. If your child has teeth, you can use a child-sized toothbrush to gently brush their teeth with water. You can also use toothpaste designed for young children but stay away from fluoridated toothpaste until at least two years of age. Having this routine early on will help your child feel comfortable at their first dental appointment. 

You can also show your child videos of other children at the dentist or read books about the dentist to start getting your child ready. Filling out paperwork ahead of time can help shorten your waiting time so the transition is easier, too!

When Should My Child Start Visiting the Dentist?

The first step to a lasting straight smile with Smiles of Palmetto Bay 

Getting a head start on dental care is essential for teaching your child healthy habits. It will also help find and address any potential issues before they arise, avoiding more complications down the road. If you’re ready to schedule your child’s first dental appointment, we would love to hear from you! Schedule an appointment today and let’s get started!