child playing with fake set of teeth at dentist office

If you have a tiny tot with tiny teeth coming in, you’re probably beginning to wonder when your child should have their first pediatric dental exam. Baby teeth are extremely vital in maintaining your child’s overall health because they hold space for the permanent teeth that will be with your child throughout all phases of their life. Your baby should have their first dental exam by the time their first birthday rolls around, and for most parents, this first appointment is accompanied with some anxiety from the unknown.

Hoffman Dental Care wants to help our parents and patients feel as prepared as possible with a breakdown of what you can expect that first pediatric dental appointment to look like.

Early is Best

The earlier you introduce your child to the dentist, the more comfortable they will be.The first dental visit for an infant or toddler is a great opportunity for you to establish the dental office as a safe and friendly environment. The best time to start taking your child for dental check-ups is either when their first tooth erupts, or right around their first birthday. While some pediatricians are trained to do a basic check-up of the mouth, not all do. Being seen by a dental professional is the best way to identify any potential issues with the growth and development of the jaw and soft palate.

Baby teeth are more porous and susceptible to tooth decay than permanent teeth, so early intervention is critical to help ensure those tiny teeth stay as healthy as possible.

Steps of a Pediatric Dental Exam

Our main goal in a first pediatric dental exam is for us to become well-acquainted with your little one in order to provide personalized care from this point going forward. The first dental visit is usually short and involves very little treatment. Prior to any treatment, we will review your child’s health history with you to be able to better monitor tooth development. Depending on your child’s age and comfort level, we may recommend a brief preliminary visit during which there is no formal dental exam, but simply a chance to grow more familiar with our staff and facilities.

Our pediatric patients love to see the dental tools we use during cleanings, take a tour of the office, and explore a new environment in a safe and friendly way.

Overall Wellness

You can expect for Hoffman Dental Care to ask you for additional information about your child’s overall wellness with questions such as:

  • Does your child use pacifiers?
  • Are there any oral habits established such as thumb or finger sucking, tongue thrusting or lip sucking?
  • Are there any parental concerns over tooth alignment and development?
  • What type of diet does your child have?
  • Does your child use sippy cups?
  • Is your child still using a bottle?

Establishing A Brushing Routine

During that first appointment, we will help to teach you the best way of caring for your child’s teeth. We recommend parents begin to brush their child’s teeth as soon as they start coming in by using a soft-bristled toothbrush that is specifically designed for a baby’s small mouth. Starting early and being consistent in tooth brushing is the easiest way to create healthy oral hygiene habits.

When To Expect the First Dental X-ray?

There is no set age on when a child should have their first dental x-ray or full exam with cleaning. Some children who may be at a higher risk for dental problems should have x-rays taken earlier than others if they are prone to baby bottle tooth decay or those with cleft palate. Usually, most children will have had x-rays taken by the age of 5, or as a child begins to get their adult teeth.

X-rays play an important role in helping us see if all of the adult teeth are growing in the jaw, to look for potential alignment issues, and to determine if your child’s teeth are healthy.

Scheduling the First Exam

Planning the initial dental visit during a quiet time of day is a great way to ensure your child doesn’t feel overwhelmed by their new surroundings and that they are able to explore on their own terms. Hoffman Dental Care is here to help you in making your child’s first pediatric dental exam as memorable (in a good way!) as possible for both you and your child. Call us today to schedule your child’s next dental appointment!