What Should I Expect at My Child’s First Dental Appointment?

The answer to this question greatly depends on the age of your child.  Most dentists recommend a child begin seeing a dentist for regular check-ups around the age of two.  At this age there is very little dental practitioners can do.  The appointment will mainly consist of the child, parent and dental practitioner (dentist, dental hygienist and/or dental assistant) getting to know each other.  The child will usually get to sit in the dental chair while the practitioner shows the child how to properly brush his/her teeth.  Also, depending on how well the child is cooperating, we may show him/her some of the equipment that will be used in the future such as the x-ray machine, overhead light, reclining dental chair and other instruments used while performing a cleaning or exam. 

The practitioner will give the parent information about how diet and home care can affect the long term dental health of their child.  If the patient is willing, the dentist may perform a very short intraoral exam.  This will consist of counting the teeth and visually examining the teeth for decay or heavy plaque.  Then, your child will receive a new toothbrush and/or a toy for being such a good sport. 

The whole point of this introductory dental visit is to make sure the parent is aware of what needs to be done to ensure optimal dental health for the child.  It’s also a good time for the parent to make sure they feel comfortable with the dentist they have chosen.  Hopefully, the visit is fun for the child so that with each subsequent visit, the practitioners are able to perform more treatment.   These preventative treatments will eventually include x-rays, cleaning, exam, fluoride and sealant placements. 

Many parents fear their child’s first trip to the dentist, but going to the dentist is fun for most children when they start going early enough to only need preventative treatment.  Not only does this treatment prevent more serious needs in the future, it also instills good dental hygiene from an early age.