"Creating and caring for beautiful little smiles since 1975"

When Should You Schedule Your Baby’s First Dental Exam?

The first several months of a baby’s life are exciting and changing every day. With all the new experiences that your child has, one of those is inevitably going to be their first teeth coming in. Many parents, especially new parents, may not know when to bring their child in for their first dental exam.

When to Schedule

At Pediatric Dentistry of Central Iowa, we recommend parents to schedule their first pediatric dental appointment before their first birthday, or within 6 months after their first tooth comes in. Baby teeth, also called primary teeth, are just as important as adult teeth. When babies are born, they usually have 20 primary teeth that have partly formed inside the gums. Once those teeth come in, or erupt, they help your child chew and speak. They also hold space in the jaws for their permanent adult teeth that are growing under their gums.

What to Expect at Their First Visit

Because your child is so young, and a first dental visit can be scary for them, our dental hygienists  do everything they can to create a calm and peaceful environment. We don’t typically use dental examination chairs during these visits, but rather ask parents to hold their child during their visit. Our infant screenings are also gentle and painless. Our dentists check your child’s gums and teeth for any redness, swelling or spotting, which could indicate tooth decay.

Tooth Decay and Other Issues

According to the ADA, tooth decay can occur as soon as your child’s first tooth erupts. You may wonder why you should worry about decay in baby teeth if they’ll ultimately fall out and be replaced by permanent teeth. The problem is that decay in baby teeth can indicate a higher risk of decay in the permanent teeth, and you should start forming good brushing and flossing habits early with your child.

Toothpaste and Preventing Tooth Decay

Another common question that new parents have is when to begin using toothpaste, and how much to use. In reality, the sooner you start using toothpaste, the better. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, you should start at birth by cleaning your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or a cloth and water. Parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Once children are 3 to 6 years old, then the amount should be increased to a pea-size dollop and perform or assist your child’s toothbrushing.

You can view more oral care tips for your infant here, including when children should start brushing their teeth on their own and when they should stop using a pacifier or sucking their thumbs.

Meet the Dentists

At Pediatric Dentistry of Central Iowa, Dr.Whittemore has specialty training to care for your child. His years of experience in pediatrics will give the best care and attention to your child’s teeth and health. Call us today to schedule an appointment, or if this is your first visit, fill out the patient history and consent form before you come into your appointment.