O.k. So you’ve made the appointment for your child’s first visit to the dentist but you’re not certain what this whole “first visit” thing entails. In fact, the baby’s first appointment focuses on both the child and the parent.
During the visit, the dentist will examine the baby’s mouth, teeth, and gums. This is a good time for you as a parent to get a good look at how far your baby has developed and get a sense of tooth eruption and the sore tissue that it causes. The dentist may take the time at this point to review proper home-care. Up until now parents should be cleaning the baby’s gums with a soft cloth or infant toothbrush and water. Usually, once the first teeth begin to develop, parents should start brushing their baby’s teeth twice daily with a very small amount of fluoridated toothpaste, preferably paste that is designed for children and that has a lower/ safer level of fluoride. The dentist will point out areas that may need improvement and suggest techniques for reaching those tough spots.
The dentist will also take the time to discuss with the parent positive routines and healthy choices. Any potentially harmful habits, such as thumb sucking or sweet intake in the form of juices, will be discussed. Some of these habits, if not identified and adjusted, could lead to more serious developmental issues.
Finally, the baby can gain an early familiarity with the dental office environment. The dentist may give the baby an introduction to how the chair operates or show him/her the funny mirror that is used.
Establishing routine and good habits will help the child later in life with good oral health. Proper regular recalls reinforces routines and monitors for problems. It all starts with that first visit.
—Dr. John Maheu