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When to Schedule a Pediatric Dental Appointment

A smiling baby climbs on a playground

Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends scheduling your child’s first dental appointment by their first birthday? It’s never too early to choose your pediatric dentist and get your child on the right track for a lifetime’s worth of healthy smiles.

What Should I Expect From My Baby’s Dental Appointment?

Your child’s initial dental appointment will be straightforward. The dentist will count their teeth, examine the lips, gums, tongue, and bite. Next, they will discuss family history, oral hygiene, and potential bad habits including thumb sucking or pacifier use. If no potential complications are discovered in this first appointment, your child will be placed on the schedule for routine cleanings and checkups, usually every six months.

Your pediatric dentist will advise you about proper oral hygiene for your tyke, ways to relieve the discomfort of teething, decreasing thumb sucking or pacifier habits, and avoiding foods that cause cavities. 

When Should I Schedule a Pediatric Dental Appointment?

The AAPD suggests bringing your child in by the age of one for their first appointment, or within six months of their first tooth’s appearance. Even at this young age, your child may be at risk for dental complications based on habits or family history. Some things that may negatively affect your child’s developing teeth may include falling asleep with a bottle, prolonged pacifier use, thumb sucking, and a family history of cavities.

Your pediatric dentist will be able to identify and treat potential oral issues, like cavities, for your child. They can also develop a treatment plan, in partnership with your pediatrician, to treat a wide range of oral complications, including Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders, Ankyloglossia ( tongue-tie), and pediatric obstructive sleep apnea.

If you suspect a problem with your child’s oral development, you should schedule a dental appointment right away. Some potential red flags may include:

Getting Ready for the Pediatric Dental Visit

There are some ways you can prepare your child for their first visit to the dentist to make the visit positive and enjoyable. 

Stay Calm

Even if you have negative feelings about dental visits, remember that your child doesn’t. It’s important to stay calm before and during the visit. Children are very perceptive and if they see that their parents are uncomfortable in a dental office, they may become anxious, too.

Role Play

A fun way to get your child prepared for their pediatric dental appointment is to role play. Make a game of looking in your child’s mouth and letting them “examine” you. You can invite your child’s favorite stuffed animal to be part of the game, too.

Plan a Reward

Plan a reward for after the visit, such as visiting a park or zoo. This will help your child associate dental visits with a fun experience. 

Books or Videos

There are many videos and books available to help your child prepare for their dental visit. These are designed to explain what the visit will be like and what they can expect. Elmo, Dora, and even Peppa Pig have all been to the dentist! 

Choose a Great Pediatric Dentist

A positive dental visit is ultimately going to come down to your choice of dentist. Are they great with kids? Patient? Fun? Finding the perfect dentist for your child is the biggest step you can take towards a lifetime of oral health.

At Ashburn Children’s Dentistry, we have been growing healthy faces for over 16 years. We believe that teeth health can have a huge impact on children’s overall well being — physically, socially, and academically. We aim to diagnose and resolve the root of any dental issue, rather than treat the symptoms alone. Contact us for a virtual consultation today.

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