Many parents may delay their child’s first dental visit until their little one has most or all of their baby teeth. However, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) recommends that children visit the dentist within six months of their first tooth arriving or when they are 12-months-old – whichever occurs sooner.[i]
Why should you take your child to the dentist from a young age?
Prevent decay and other oral health issues
Contrary to popular belief, a dentist won’t just look at your baby’s first few teeth; the dentist will also look inside your child’s mouth, including their gums and lips, to ensure everything looks as it should.
Instilling healthy oral habits from a young age is also vital in helping your child avoid decay, infection and other oral health issues. Unfortunately, 42% of children aged five to 10 had experienced tooth decay in their baby teeth, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s report.[ii]
Help your child feel comfortable at the dentist early on
Starting visits to the dentist early is the best way to reduce dental anxiety and ensure your child feels comfortable in the dentist chair.
We touch on some tips further below on how you can make their first visit as exciting and smooth as possible.
What can your child expect during their first dental visit?
What you can expect will depend on their age and their needs.
Your baby’s first visit
If you’re taking a young bub to the dentist, you may notice that your baby fusses and cries during their visit; this is normal as it’s a new environment. Rest assured, our dentists are gentle and will work to ensure your baby is comfortable at all times.
For babies, the dentist may discuss:
- how you can care for teeth that have broken through
- the soft tissues of their gums and cheeks
- any thumb or dummy sucking
- the risk of baby bottle tooth decay.
Your child’s first visit
Are you taking an older child into the office? If so, the dentist may offer a gentle clean and polish to remove plaque, tartar, and any stains. Children don’t usually require x-rays unless the dentist needs to diagnose any decay or if a stuck baby tooth impedes an adult tooth from growing correctly.
The dentist will also assess your child’s bite and how their teeth are growing overall.
Lastly, your child will have an opportunity to learn how to floss and brush at home properly.
These visits can last anywhere between 25 to 40 minutes.
How often do I need to take my child to the dentist?
Usually, the dentist will want to see your child every six to 12 months, just like adults. This regularity helps prevent oral issues before they arise and establishes comfort between the child and their dentist.
However, your dentist will advise you on how often they’d like to see your little one after their appointment. If your dentist wants to monitor certain developments with their teeth, they may ask to see your child more regularly.
How much will my child’s dental visit cost?
Please ask our friendly reception team for an estimated cost when you’re booking in.
If you have an extras health insurance policy that includes cover for your child, you might be able to claim some of the cost on your cover. Before your appointment, be sure to check your policy inclusions.
How do I prepare my child for their first dental visit?
Visiting the dentist for the first time is an exciting milestone for your child (and for you!) – whether they have one little tooth or more, it’s essential to make the occasion as happy and carefree as possible.
Here are a few tips that you can try to help calm and prepare your child before their dental appointment.
Eight tips to prepare your child for the dentis
- Tell younger children that you’re visiting the tooth fairy’s friend.
- Avoid saying the dentist won’t or might hurt; your child may become anxious when you mention the idea of pain.
- Don’t use the dentist as a deterrent. For instance, avoid saying, ‘the dentist won’t be happy with you if you eat that piece of chocolate’; this may create a negative image of the dentist in your child’s mind.
- Play ‘dentist’ with your child with their favourite toy before their appointment. Also consider taking the toy along to your child’s appointment, and have the dentist pretend to give it a check-up as well!
- Avoid telling your child that they need to be brave. While well-intentioned, they may wonder why and become nervous.
- Avoid being anxious about the appointment yourself or sharing any fears you may have. Even if you’re taking your bub to the dentist, they can still pick up on your emotions – particularly if you’re worried or stressed.
- Schedule the appointment around your child’s nap and eating times. If you go to the dentist when they should be sleeping, it’s going to be difficult for your little one to go fuss-free. A hungry child won’t be so happy, either!
- Consider taking your child to your general check-ups. Let your little one hop up on the chair after your appointment; this can help create familiarity before they have their appointment.
Is it time to book your child’s first appointment?
[i] Australian Dental Association. ‘When should my child first see the dentist?’ 2016. Accessed September 2021.
[ii] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. ’Oral health and dental care in Australia’. Last updated 23 March 2021. Accessed September 2021.