Your Child's First
It is generally recommended that an infant be seen by a dentist by the age of
1 or within 6 months after his or her first tooth comes in.
What Happens at the First Dental Visit?
The first dental visit is usually short and involves very little treatment.
This visit gives your child an opportunity to meet the dentist in a
non-threatening and friendly way. Some dentists may ask the parent to sit in the
dental chair and hold their child during the examination. The parent may also be
asked to wait in the reception area during part of the visit so that a
relationship can be built between your child and your dentist.
During the examination, your dentist will check all of your child's existing
teeth for decay, examine your child's bite, and look for any potential problems
with the gums, jaw, and oral tissues. If indicated, the dentist will clean any
teeth and assess the need for fluoride. He or she will also educate parents
about oral health care basics for children and discuss dental developmental
issues and answer any questions.
Topics your dentist may discuss with you might include:
- Good oral hygiene practices for your child's teeth
and gums and cavity protection
- Flouride needs
- Oral habits (thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, lip
- Developmental milestones
- Proper Nutrition
- Schedule of dental check up visits. Many dentists like to see children
every 6 months to build up the child's comfort and confidence level in
visiting the dentist, to monitor the development of the teeth, and promptly
treat any developing problems.
It's important to know that the parent or legal guardian that accompanies the
child for this first visit will be asked to complete medical and health
information forms concerning the child. Come prepared with the necessary
What's the Difference Between a Pediatric Dentist and a Regular Dentist?
A pediatric dentist has at least two additional years of training beyond
dental school. The additional training focuses on management and treatment of a
child's developing teeth, child behavior, physical growth and development, and
the special needs of children's dentistry. Although either type of dentist is
capable of addressing your child's oral health care needs, a pediatric dentist,
his or her staff, and even the office decor are all geared to care for children
and to put them at ease. If your child has special needs, care from a pediatric
dentist should be considered. Ask your dentist or your child's physician what he
or she recommends for your child.
When Should Children Get Their First Dental X-ray?
There is no hard-and-fast rule for when to start getting dental x-rays. Some
children who may be at higher risk for dental problems (for example, those prone
to baby bottle tooth decay or those with
cleft lip/palate) should have x-rays taken earlier than others. Usually,
most children will have had x-rays taken by the age of 5 or 6. As children begin
to get their adult teeth around the age of 6, x-rays play an important role in
helping your dentist. X-rays allow your dentist to see if all of the adult teeth
are growing in the jaw, to look for bite problems and to determine if teeth are
clean and healthy.
Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic Department of
Last Editorial Review: 1/31/2005 6:19:23 AM
Edited by Michael W. Smith, MD, April 2003, WebMD.
Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic 2000-2003