First visit by first birthday
There’s a lot of planning that happens around a child’s first birthday, but parents shouldn’t forget to include a dental visit on the agenda.
Establishing a “dental home” for your child earlier in life will allow him or her to get to know the dentist and become more comfortable in a dental setting. It can also help the dentist learn more about your child’s needs earlier or before problems occur. A child’s first dental visit should be scheduled within six months of the first tooth eruption or by the first birthday.
During a typical first visit, your child will stay with you while the dentist simply examines his or her teeth and gums. Creating a positive and happy first visit is important, so your child doesn’t meet the dentist for the first time during a scary or painful emergency.
Because tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in the U.S., it’s never too early to start developing good oral health habits.1 Even though teething typically doesn’t start until around 6 months of age, parents should begin establishing an oral health routine before the baby’s first tooth appears.
Follow these oral health tips to start a good routine at home for your child:
- No bottles in bed: If a bottle is necessary, make sure it is filled with water. Breast milk, juice and formula contain sugar and can lead to tooth decay.
- Massage the gums: Use a damp washcloth to lightly massage your baby’s gums after each feeding.
- Don’t spread germs: Don’t share the same cups or silverware with your baby, as it can spread germs and bacteria.
- Offer teething relief: Give your baby a cool teething ring, the back of a small cold spoon or a cold wet washcloth to relieve teething pain.
- Use the right pacifiers and bottles: Different types of nipples can affect muscles in your baby’s mouth. Talk to your dentist about which type to use at which age.
This information is available to download as an oral health flier.
1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Oral health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General—Executive Summary,” web.