Pediatric Dentistry
Child's First Visit Dental Check-up

We follow the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry that a child’s first dental visit be scheduled by his/her 1st birthday. Starting early allows your child to see our warm and cozy environment, build trust and put them at ease for future dental visits. We want to establish a DENTAL HOME as soon as possible. We will also review the importance of maintaining a good dental health program with you and your child to ensure a healthy and beautiful smile for life!

Activities at the first visit will be based upon the child’s age, anxiety and your dental concerns. At the very least, we hope to complete a comprehensive exam and fluoride varnish at this visit. We’re usually able to accomplish these simple procedures, but we can also just provide a “ride in the big chair” for children who are extremely apprehensive.

Most anxiety that children experience is based upon the apprehension of their parents. We are experienced in dealing with children with anxiety and can explain treatment procedures in a positive and pleasant manner to avoid any unpleasant feelings toward dentistry. Children should be encouraged to discuss any fears or anxiety they feel. Please support us by avoiding words that would initiate fear, such as “drill” or “shot.”

How can I prepare for my child’s first dental visit?

First visits can be stressful for parents, especially for parents who have dental phobias themselves. It is imperative for parents to continually communicate positive messages about dental visits (especially the first one), and to help the child feel as happy as possible about visiting the dentist.

Pediatric dentists are required to undergo extensive training in child psychology.  Their dental offices are generally colorful, child-friendly, and boast a selection of games, toys, and educational tools.  Pediatric dentists (and all dental staff) aim to make the child feel as welcome as possible during all visits.

There are several things parents can do to make the first visit enjoyable.  Some helpful tips are listed below:

Take another adult along for the visit – Sometimes infants become fussy when having their mouths examined.  Having another adult along to soothe the infant allows the parent to ask questions and to attend to any advice the dentist may have.

Leave other children at home – Other children can distract the parent and cause the infant to fuss.  Leaving other children at home (when possible) makes the first visit less stressful for all concerned.

Avoid threatening language – Pediatric dentists and staff are trained to avoid the use of threatening language like “drills,” “needles,” “injections,” and “bleeding.”  It is imperative for parents to use positive language when speaking about dental treatment with their child.

Dr. Lynne’s dental friendly vocabulary suggestions:

DON’T USE                                                    OUR EQUIVALENT

dental explorer tool                                    tooth counter

drill                                                                water whistle tooth brush

drill on tooth                                                clean a tooth

decay, cavity                                                sugar bug

examination                                                 count teeth

nitrous oxide gas                                        laughing air/ happy air/ magic air

needle or shot                                             sleepy juice

pull or yank tooth                                        wiggle a tooth out

tooth cleaning                                             tickle teeth

Provide positive explanations – It is important to explain the purposes of the dental visit in a positive way.  Explaining that the dentist “helps keep teeth healthy” is far better than explaining that the dentist “is checking for tooth decay and might have to drill the tooth if decay is found.”

Explain what will happen – Anxiety can be vastly reduced if the child knows what to expect.  Age-appropriate books about visiting the dentist can be very helpful in making the visit seem fun. Here is a list of parent and dentist-approved books:

  • The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist – by Stan and Jan Berenstain.
  • Show Me Your Smile: A Visit to the Dentist – Part of the “Dora the Explorer” Series.
  • Going to the Dentist – by Anne Civardi.
  • Elmo Visits the Dentist – Part of the “Sesame Street” Series.

What will happen during the first visit?

There are several goals for the first dental visit.  First, the pediatric dentist and the child need to get properly acquainted.  Second, the dentist needs to monitor tooth and jaw development to get an idea of the child’s overall health history.  Third, the dentist needs to evaluate the health of the existing teeth and gums.  Finally, the dentist aims to answer questions and advise parents on how to implement a good oral care regimen.

The following sequence of events is typical of an initial “well baby checkup”:

  1. Dental staff will greet the child and parents.
  2. The infant/family health history will be reviewed (this may include questionnaires).
  3. The pediatric dentist will address parental questions and concerns.
  4. More questions will be asked, generally pertaining to the child’s oral habits, pacifier use, general development, tooth alignment, tooth development, and diet.
  5. The dentist will provide advice on good oral care, how to prevent oral injury, fluoride intake, and sippy cup use.
  6. The infant’s teeth will be examined. Generally, the dentist and parent sit facing each other.  The infant is positioned so that his or her head is cradled in the dentist’s lap.  This position allows the infant to look at the parent during the examination.
  7. Good brushing and flossing demonstrations will be provided.
  8. The state of the child’s oral health will be described in detail, and specific recommendations will be made.  Recommendations usually relate to oral habits, appropriate toothpastes and toothbrushes for the child, orthodontically correct pacifiers, and diet.
  9. The dentist will detail which teeth may appear in the following months.
  10. The dentist will outline an appointment schedule and describe what will happen during the next appointment.

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s first dental visit, please contact our office.


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