According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), your child should visit the dentist and establish a Dental Home by his/her 1st birthday, which is roughly six months after the first tooth erupts. You can make the first visit to the dentist enjoyable and positive if you convey a positive attitude. Your child should be informed of the visit and told that the dentist and their staff will explain all procedures and answer any questions. This is done by telling the child what will be done, showing how it will be done, and finally the dentist will complete the task. It is best if you refrain from using words around your child that might cause unnecessary fear, such as needle, pull, drill, or hurt. Pediatric dental offices make a practice of using words that convey the same message, but are pleasant and non-frightening to the child.
The first visit will usually be done with the child in the parent’s lap. Even though all of the teeth may not be present, it is important to assess the eruption of the teeth, development of the jaw, nutrition and fluoride. The discussion may include topics such as finger sucking, pacifiers, trauma, grinding, caries risk assessment, and the age old question, “Will my child need braces?”