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Lancaster & Ephrata - SmileBuilderz

When Should I Bring My Toddler to the Dentist?

added on: October 20, 2023

The general rule of thumb as to when to bring your child to their first dental appointment is no later than their first birthday. As soon as their first tooth comes in, it’s at risk of decaying if not properly cared for. Children are at risk of cavities in the same way adults are, yet they’re not equipped with the knowledge and skillset to clean their teeth without parental intervention. 

Per the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, parents should opt for the earliest of these two milestones: 

  • The date that your child’s first tooth becomes visible
  • The child’s first birthday

Why Do You Need to Take Your Baby to the Dentist? 

It may leave parents scratching their heads, wondering why their small child needs to head to the dentist at such a young age. The statistics show that over 20% of American children between the ages of 2 and 5 have cavities. Children who have already visited the dentist are more likely to avoid such an early onset of poor oral health habits, as dentists can engage and educate parents on how to take care of young teeth at home. 

When a toddler visits the dentist, it’s often the parents who are responsible for picking up fundamental information and tips. The first dental visit is the prime opportunity for young or new parents to learn how to adequately care for their child’s teeth and set their children up for oral health success for years to come.

What to Expect at Baby’s First Dental Visit 

A pediatric dentist will examine the child’s teeth and look for any signs of decay or conditions that may require specialized care and attention. This appointment is also largely for education, with the dentist showing parents how to care for tiny teeth and delicate gums. This in-person guidance is irreplaceable and opens the discussion for questions, concerns, and even hands-on practice. 

Prepare any questions you may have for the dentist and try to schedule a morning appointment when the child is more likely to be alert and fresh. Appointments can be expected to last between 30-45 minutes and may include a gentle cleaning if needed. Unlike adult appointments, X-rays are largely unnecessary since baby teeth will inevitably fall out. After the first visit, children should be placed on a twice-yearly schedule just like adults. 

Scheduling your child’s first dental appointment doesn’t have to be stressful! The team at smilebuilderz in Lancaster and Ephrata has experience creating a comfortable environment for little ones and their parents. Our experienced dentists can equip you with information on preventing tooth decay, how pacifier and finger-sucking habits can affect a baby’s burgeoning teeth, and how to keep your infant’s oral health in tip-top shape.