Parents are often unsure about when to take a child to a dentist. Should you wait until all of their teeth have come in, or perhaps until there is a real problem? The experts say no. The American Dental Association® and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that a child’s first visit should be when the first tooth erupts in the mouth, no later than age one to two.

This first visit is not for doing any real work. It is really about introducing your child to the dentist’s office, allowing them to explore various instruments and even take a ride in the chair. Only after your child is comfortable is it time for our pediatric dentists and team to take a quick peek at his mouth.

This first visit accomplishes three things. First, it familiarizes your child with the staff and the office environment in a non-threatening way, thus building trust. Second, it introduces them (and you) to the specific language that the office uses. For example, we may refer to a probe as a “tooth counter,” gauze as a “tooth pillow,” and the drill or handpiece as a “tooth sweeper” to take away the fear often associated with these items. Third, it allows our pediatric dentists to do a quick examination, looking for decay. We will also check your child’s gums, jaw and bite, keeping an eye out for bottle caries, frenum issues or other problems that may affect teeth or speech patterns. Dr. Derrick Cantu or Dr. Christi Wengler will also probably talk to you about good oral hygiene and allow you to ask any questions you may have. You may even want to bring a list of questions to the appointment.

From the first visit onward, we recommend that children come in every six months, unless an issue comes up that needs correction, such as a lisp, teeth grinding or mouth breathing. Expect our pediatric dentists and team to build on the first visit and add a step at each subsequent visit. For example, during the second visit, we may count your child’s teeth and brush them with polishing paste, then possibly add in fluoride at the visit after that.

Depending on our pediatric dentists and your child’s comfort level, you may be asked to hold your child while we take a look in their mouth. After the first visit, you may be asked to step outside so your toddler can gain a sense of independence and confidence and have the opportunity to get to know our pediatric dentists and staff on their own.

By the time your child is about three years old, they will be having full dental appointments. X-rays will be taken at five years of age if the child can handle it and it has been a good experience in the past.

If you have any questions about your child’s first dental visit in San Antonio, Texas, or to set up their appointment now, call Pediatric Dentistry of San Antonio at 210-680-7841!