One of the many joys of parenthood is all the “firsts” you get to experience when you have a new baby. There’s the first time they smile at you, the first time they roll over, those wobbly first steps, and so many more. It’s so exciting having those firsts no matter when they come. In the parenting world, there is a lot of talk about milestones and when your child should be experiencing or doing certain things based on their age.
Teething is a milestone that comes with some pain and a lot of drool, but the cutest little teeth once they pop through. Once our son’s teeth came in around 4 months or so, I wasn’t sure how to care for his new teeth. The American Dental Association suggests scheduling the first dentist appointment after your child gets their first tooth but before they turn 1.
If you’re wondering why a baby would need to go to the dentist so early, you’re likely not alone. Babies can get cavities as soon as their teeth start coming in. Even if you’re not giving kids pure sugar in the form of sweets and candy, healthy whole foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, fruit, and milk (including breastmilk) can have some level of sugar in them.
Ready to schedule your child’s first dentist appointment? Here are a few things to do and consider to help you prepare for your first visit.
Talk to your pediatrician
Your pediatrician is tuned into the overall health of your child, so it’s best to start with a conversation with them before you make a dentist appointment. While your pediatrician isn’t a dentist, they may be able to give you some questions to ask your dentist if they have any concerns. Plus, many pediatricians have a great referral list they can recommend, especially because not all dentists accept babies and toddlers.
Ask what to expect during the visit
It is always helpful to know what you’re getting into when taking your child somewhere new. Even for adults, the dentist can be a scary thing so it’s good to ask your dentist’s office what you can expect when you come for your visit. For our son, they laid him in the dental chair and attempted to take a look around his mouth. I stood close by and even played some Paw Patrol episodes to distract him a bit, but he was just a little scared and confused about who everyone was and what they were doing.
Make it as fun and enjoyable as you can
If your dentist is used to examining babies and young children, then a tantrum or a few tears will not surprise them. But think of a few ways that you can make this a happy experience for everyone involved. If your child has a favorite song, play it! If they have a toy or stuffed animal they always have with them, bring it! Once the appointment is over, make sure to let them know they did a great job—some sort of reward can’t hurt.
No matter how the first appointment goes, pat yourself on the back for making it to another first with your baby. It’s a new experience for you and your child, and (hopefully) it’ll get easier as the years go on.