What To Expect At Your Child's First Dentist Visit

What To Expect At Your Child's First Dentist Visit

 Whitney DiFoggio MA, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio MA, RDH
Medical Reviewed on Oct 17, 2023
byDr. Matthew Hannan DDS
🔬 Evidence Based
What To Expect At Your Child's First Dentist Visit

The ADA and pediatricians recommend that every child see a dentist by the time their first tooth comes in or when they turn 1 year old (whichever comes first.) Since most dental problems are preventable, these early visits can help your baby or toddler get a jump-start on having healthy teeth for life. Knowing what to plan for with kids’ dental care can help you minimize any anxiety or nervousness so that future checkups are as easy as possible.

Risk Of An Untreated Rotten Baby Tooth

When baby teeth have issues, fixing them isn’t as simple as just pulling the tooth so that the new one can grow in. Your baby or toddler needs that primary tooth to act as a space saver for the adult tooth that’s growing in underneath. Otherwise, it can lead to serious issues like orthodontic complications or even speech impediments.

Untreated tooth decay in rotten baby teeth actually sets your child’s permanent teeth up for unnecessary infection. Since decay and bacteria can spread to the developing teeth underneath, delaying dental care can lead to serious complications.

Kids dental care with a family or pediatric dentist will revolve around preventative strategies and early intervention, to avoid rotten baby teeth and unnecessary side effects. In most cases, the best treatment is to fill the cavity with a small filling as soon as it ruptures through the enamel (because baby teeth can decay at extremely fast rates!)

When Should Your Child First Visit The Dentist?

Don’t wait until there’s a toothache before you schedule your child’s first dental visit. In fact, a baby’s first dental appointment needs to happen before their first birthday or when their first tooth comes in. Your family or pediatric dentist will want to evaluate for things like:


And as teeth start coming in, they’ll also screen for:

  • baby bottle tooth decay
  • impacted teeth
  • overbites and underbites
  • open bites
  • thumb and finger sucking
  • speech problems


Since most of these conditions are best handled as early as possible, seeing your family or pediatric dentist by the recommended age of 1 will help you ensure that your baby or toddler has the best chances at a future healthy smile. Even though those teeth will eventually fall out and get replaced with permanent adult teeth, some of them will need to last well until when your child is in junior high.

What Happens At My Baby/Child’s Cleaning Appointment?

Once your baby’s 1-year old dental checkup is over, you’ll want to plan on scheduling regular six-month checkups just like the rest of your family members. Since every child is different when it comes to what they’re comfortable with or able to sit through, your family or pediatric dentist will play it by ear when it comes to their first cleaning.

It can help to bring your toddler or young child in to watch your own cleaning (or a sibling’s) as long as you have another adult there to help hold them. This experience can minimize any fear or anxiety related to their first dental cleanings.

For the most part, a toddler’s first dental cleaning will be when they’re around 2 or 3 years old. Again, this depends on the child. The dentist or hygienist will likely ease into the cleaning by “counting” your child’s teeth, using a special polishing tool (“electric toothbrush”), scaling off plaque (“using a toothpick”) and then applying fluoride (“vitamins”) to ward off cavities.

Depending on how cooperative your toddler or child is, your dentist will eventually start taking yearly checkup X-rays to screen for cavities and impacted teeth. This could be as early as 2-3 years old or as late as age 5.

Overview Of Your Childs First Dental Appointment 

It’s super important for you to bring your baby or toddler to the dentist every six months for checkups. Preventative visits help you avoid common dental problems and eliminate the risk of associating the dentist’s office with pain (which can happen if you wait until your child as a toothache or other dental problem.)

Baby’s first dental visit needs to be scheduled by the time their first tooth pops through or by their first birthday (whichever one happens first). Ask your family dentist if they see children or if it’s ok for your toddler to watch during your next checkup. The more familiar they are with the checkup and teeth cleaning experience, the better chances there are that your child won’t be as nervous when it’s time for their own visit.

 Whitney DiFoggio MA, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio MA, RDH"Teeth Talk Girl," is a registered dental hygienist. She started her dental health journey on YouTube, educating the public through videos.
Dr. Matthew  Hannan DDS
Medical Reviewed byDr. Matthew Hannan DDSDr. Matthew Hannan is a board-certified dentist and graduate of UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry.
Last updated onOctober 18, 2023Here is our process

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