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New parents may wonder, “When should I take my child to the pediatric dentist for the first time?” The simple answer is “By their first birthday,” for what we call the Age 1 dental visit. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends scheduling your child’s first appointment within six months of the first tooth and no later than age one.

One reason to begin early dental care is because children can get cavities early; tooth decay can occur as soon as the first tooth erupts. By age 1, most children have between four and six teeth, and what do we do—we buy them a nice, sugary birthday cake.

Even though children will lose baby teeth, front teeth don’t fall out until between ages five and seven, and they are needed for chewing and speech development. Baby molars don’t fall out until ages 10-12, and are key to proper bite development and nutrition. Decay in primary teeth can result in a higher risk of decay in permanent teeth, so learning how to prevent cavities in children is something we at Smile Wonders review with parents at each visit.

Your First Visit to a Pediatric Dentist

In your first visit to Smile Wonders, we perform an oral exam of the child’s teeth and gums, and look for decay or other problems. We also discuss with parents:

  • Proper care of an infant’s mouth
  • Cavity risks
  • How and why to use topical fluoride properly
  • Teething and developmental milestones

We’ll also bring up topics like:

  • Thumb sucking
  • Oral habits
  • Oral health and diet
  • Trauma prevention

This first appointment helps us establish a baseline on your child’s dental health and educate parents on the best way to maintain good oral health in their child, and it allows parents the opportunity to ask questions. Following this first appointment, a regular schedule of appointments – normally every six months – is established.

Pediatric dentists engage in several years of education beyond regular dental school, learning the intricacies of children’s dental health, as well as issues surrounding children at any age, including developmental and behavioral ones. A pediatric dentist is also child-friendly, with a trained staff, colorful, engaging surroundings and kid-sized, non-frightening equipment, and techniques.

When visiting your pediatric dentist for the first time, bring along a child’s favorite teddy bear, toy or blanket, and don’t present the visit as something scary or use it as a threat. Make it a normal part of a child’s routine. They may even find it exciting to visit a new place. Also, try not to schedule your appointment around children’s normal naptimes; mornings are often best.

If you live in the Reston area or in Northern Virginia, make Smile Wonders your pediatric dentist. Kids love Dr. Rishita Jaju and her entire staff. Call us today to set your child’s Age 1 appointment.