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Dental

When do kids start going to the dentist?


As a parent, you get to experience special ‘firsts’ along with your child. Their first smile, first word, first step, first birthday, first day of school, and their very first dental appointment. Parents frequently ask, “When do kids start going to the dentist?” or “What age should kids go to the dentist?”

The American Association of Pediatric Dentists recommends that children visit the dentist as early as when their first tooth appears and no later than their first birthday. Baby teeth can appear as early as 6 months of age. At this age, the first oral checkup may seem a bit early, but prevention is key. It is important to make sure your child’s teeth are developing and coming up properly and that there are not any signs of gum or tooth decay. Although tooth decay is one of the most common childhood diseases, it can be prevented with early, routine checkups. In addition to checking your child’s teeth and gums, the first dentist visit is an exciting experience. Going to the dentist can be fun! Plus, early positive experiences can set up your child for a lifetime of healthy habits.

What to Expect During Your Child's First Dental Visit

Your child’s first dental visit is possibly your first dentist visit as a parent. For both you and your child, it is helpful to know what to expect so that everyone is as comfortable as possible. Many families find it helpful to read picture books about going to the dentist to prepare for the new experience. If your child is particularly nervous, you are welcome to schedule an office tour to look around, meet the staff, and become familiar with us before your first visit.

Hygienists and dentists who see pediatric patients have a lot of skills and strategies to help your child feel as comfortable as possible and hopefully even enjoy their dental visit. One strategy that is especially popular is a knee-to-knee exam. In knee-to-knee exams, you sit sideways in the dental chair and your child sits on your lap. The hygienist or dentist pulls up a chair and positions themselves with their knees touching yours. Your child can lean back into the hygienist or dentist’s lap for their oral exam and still stay close to you. The knee-to-knee technique helps a lot of children feel more comfortable, and it can easily be practiced at home to prepare your child for the visit.


There are two main parts to a pediatric dental visit. First, you see a hygienist, and then you see a dentist.

Your child’s first dental visit begins with a visit from a hygienist who will:

  1. Talk with your child to build a relationship and help your child feel comfortable.
  2. Playfully introduce your child to the chair, the light, and various cleaning tools.
  3. Examine and clean your child’s teeth.
  4. Share with you techniques and strategies for properly cleaning your child’s teeth. (Little mouths can be difficult to clean!)
  5. Discuss oral habits, diet, and fluoride.
  6. Recommend oral care products.
  7. Answer any questions or address any concerns you may have.
  8. The next step in your child’s first dentist checkup is a visit to the dentist who will:
  9. Talk with your child to build a relationship and help your child feel comfortable.
  10. Examine your child’s mouth to check for any signs of tooth decay.
  11. Apply a fluoride treatment.
  12. Discuss with you any concerns they may have about your child’s oral development.
  13. Answer any questions or address any concerns you may have.

The first dental visit ends with the staff providing a fun dental health bag complete with a special toddler or infant-sized toothbrush, pediatric toothpaste, and pediatric floss.

Benefits of Early Dentist Visits

An early dentist visit has many benefits. Early, positive experiences can help children feel comfortable going to the dentist and encourage a lifetime of healthy oral care habits. The early dentist appointments can be fun and easy, and they are an important opportunity for your child to get to know the staff, office, and routine of regular dental checkups. Early dentist appointments are also valuable for the parents. The dentist can answer questions and show you how to properly clean your child’s teeth and gums.

Book an Appointment with Us

Every child deserves access to exceptional dental care, especially for their first dental visit. We are leaders in providing high-quality and compassionate dental, vision, and orthodontic services to underserved children. Our dedicated providers are general dentists who treat pediatric patients. Our kid-friendly offices, high-quality staff, flexible scheduling, and acceptance of a variety of insurance options, including Medicaid, make us the perfect fit for your family.

For your child’s first dental visit, book an appointment at a convenient location near you.

California

Kids & Teen Dental Place - Glendale, Huntington Park, Los Angeles, Van Nuys

Colorado

Adventure - Aurora, Denver, Commerce City, Greeley, Lakewood, Longmont

Academy Kids - Colorado Springs, Pueblo

Kansas

Adventure - Kansas City, Topeka, Wichita

Maryland

Adventure - Baltimore, Essex, Landover Hills