Your Child’s First Dental Visit

Your child’s first visit to the dentist can set the stage for a lifetime of good oral health. Medical and dental experts agree that a child’s first dental exam should be within 6 months of the first tooth erupting or by 12 months of age, whichever comes first. 

What to Expect

If possible, please schedule morning appointments so your young children are alert, fresh, and much more likely to be willing to try something new.

The first visit often lasts about 30 minutes. Depending on your child's age, the visit may include a full exam of the teeth, jaws, bite, gums, and oral tissues to check growth and development. Dr. Joyce may show you and your child proper home cleaning such as flossing, and advise you on the need for fluoride. We will also advise if any X-rays are necessary. Diet, oral habits and injury prevention will also be discussed, since preventive care and anticipatory guidance play a large role in your child’s future oral anatomy.

Here are some age-related behaviors that we commonly observe during children’s first dental visits in Belmont:

Under 24 Months of Age
Just like getting their diapers changed or leaning back to get their hair washed during bathtime, children at this age may get upset about laying back or getting the inside of their mouths looked at by the dentist. Please keep in mind that crying at this age is not an indicator of a traumatic experience—the oral exam tends to be relatively short at this age, and most children recover very quickly after they sit up. 

2-3 Years
In a 2-year-old, "no" may be a common response. Three-year-olds may or may not be OK being apart from a parent when having a dental procedure such as getting a cavity filled.

Starting at around age 4
Many children are able to sit in another room from parents for exams and treatment procedures. However, every child is an unique individual and may react differently. We are confident that your child will grow to enjoy their dentist visits sooner or later—it’s just a matter of time.

What if My Child Needs Treatment?

We will review our findings with you in detail. If any further treatment is necessary, we will design a treatment plan to fit you and your child’s needs.

Getting Your Child Ready for a Dental Exam

We suggest that you speak very positively about their first visit and explain that we will be “counting and shining” their teeth and we may need to “take pictures” of their teeth. Make them look forward to the cartoons at the office (if screen time is okay with you) and the goodies they will get for being a big helper to us. If you prefer, you could also consider building excitement and understanding for a preschooler or older child by utilizing one or more of the books below:
Daniel Goes to the Dentist
Adapted by Alexandra Cassel Schwartz and Illustrated by Jason Fruchter – In this book, Daniel goes to the dentist for the first time. Dr. Plat walks Daniel through everything and shows him all of his gadgets before counting and cleaning his teeth. It also touches on oral hygiene at home and is a great book for toddlers or preschoolers.
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Curious George Visits the Dentist
by H.A. Rey – When Curious George has a wiggly tooth, the man with the yellow hat takes George to the dentist. This book shows there is nothing scary about dentist visits or loose teeth, and the overall message is positive. This book also includes stickers and activities for your little one!
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Dentist Trip (Peppa Pig)
If you have a Peppa Pig fan in your family, this book will help prepare your three-to five-year-old for their visit to the pediatric dentist. This book talks about how much fun a dentist appointment can be, and helps put your little one at ease.
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Preparing Yourself as a Parent

We understand that many parents worry about how their child will behave at the dentist. Please keep in mind that your feelings toward dental visits can be quite different from your child's. If you have dental anxieties, please kindly refrain from communicating those fears or dislikes to your child, as it is best for the child if parents can give moral support by staying calm while in the dental exam room. It would also help if you inform our care team about your own negative dental experiences and/or phobia, if any—we are here for you, and will do everything we can to make your child’s visit as comfortable as possible for everyone involved. 

To help your child develop a favorable opinion of the dentist, please try to avoid using words that may cause unnecessary fear such as "hurt", "pain", "shot", "needle” or "drill." Instead, keep it simple without going into any details and reassure your child that the friendly doctor and staff will explain everything to him or her and answer all questions.

Reserve Your Child’s First Dental Exam

Contact Smile Stories Pediatric Dentistry in Belmont, CA today to reserve an appointment for your child.

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