Taking your little one for their first toothy check?
Here’s some advice for finding the right dentist, knowing what to expect from that first appointment and making dentist visits fun. Yes – fun!
At a glance
- How to find the right dentist for your child
- When they should have their first check-up
- What to expect at their first visit
A positive start
One way to help your child familiarise themselves with the dentist is to take them along to your check-ups. By the time they have their appointment they will be more comfortable with the staff, sounds and surroundings.
Talk to your child about going to the dentist only in a fun way. If you aren’t a huge fan yourself try to find positives to talk about like the ‘magic’ chair that moves by itself, toys in the waiting room or how friendly the staff are. Most dentists have a good manner with children and should be able to work with you to make the whole experience relaxed and enjoyable.
When should my child first visit the dentist?
Most dentists agree that children should have their first check-up at around a year old. This is usually about six months after their first milk tooth sprouts, although this varies from one baby to another.
There is no harm in taking them from six months onwards though, particularly if their first teeth made an appearance quite early.
What to expect
The first trip to the dentist should really be just a check-up. It is unlikely that your child will need any actual treatment. The dentist will take a look inside your child’s mouth to check the progress of their milk teeth and will probably ask you about baby’s teeth cleaning routine. This is a good time to voice any concerns or questions you may have.
They may give your child’s teeth a quick clean if there is any build-up of plaque or tartar.
Finding the right dentist for your child
Most dentists have a calm, friendly manner and a gentle technique. If they seem rushed or impatient, you could find a more child-friendly dentist before you take your child along for their first visit. Feel free to ask them if they are used to treating children.
Look out for dental practices geared towards families. Some have special stickers for children to wear with pride after their appointment. Another good sign is a waiting room with toys and books or posters designed to appeal to children. Good children’s dentists will explain what is going to happen in a kind and simple way (if they are old enough to understand) and praise children for their cooperation. They are usually also good at distracting them with friendly conversation or by showing them interesting things to look at.
How often should you take your child to the dentist?
The dentist will decide how often your child needs to be seen. They may ask you to come more regularly to build up your child’s confidence or if there is anything they need to keep an eye on. NHS dentists are still free for children.
It is not unusual for toddlers to lose or chip teeth when they fall over. Keep calm and read our advice on Toddler Teeth Accidents.