Time flies, doesn’t it!? Feels like just yesterday you brought your baby home from the hospital. Now he’s eating solids, has a few front teeth and you’re starting to wonder about his first dentist appointment. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends visiting the dentist when your child sprouts his or her first tooth or around the first birthday. You may have questions like, “What’s the point of this appointment? Is it really necessary? Can’t I just YouTube brushing techniques? How will he react to the dentist? Is she going to traumatize him for life? Do I have to see a ‘pediatric’ dentist?”

These are all totally valid questions and concerns that we hear from local moms. That’s why we wrote this article — to help answer some of those questions and provide additional information as you prepare for your child’s first pediatric dental visit.


Why your child’s first dentist appointment is important

The most important oral health goal for your child at this time is to establish a dental home.

The AAPD defines a dental home as the ongoing relationship between the dentist and the patient, inclusive of all aspects of oral health care delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated, and family-centered way. The dental home should be established no later than 12 months of age and includes referral to dental specialists when appropriate.

A dental home should provide:

• Dental exams

• Preventative dental services

• Anticipatory guidance and counseling

• Oral treatment for children from infant to teenage years

Girl with pigtails brushing her teeth

What you should expect at the first dentist appointment

At the first dental appointment you and your child will have an opportunity to:

• Learn proper oral hygiene techniques

• Have a discussion about healthy eating habits

• Get an assessment of growth and development for your child’s head, neck and mouth including;

•Salivary glands development

• Muscle tones and development

• Tonsil development

• Airway opening size

• Dental arch development

• Speech assessment

• Swallowing function

• TMJ disorder check


At Ballard Pediatric Dentistry we provide the following at each child’s first dentist appointment:

• Review your child’s diet & snack pattern

• Practice age appropriate brushing and flossing technique and provide helpful tips as needed

• Perform intraoral examination along with the head and neck area

• Provide coronal polishing of your child’s teeth

• Take X-Rays if it is needed

• Offer fluoride varnish treatment as needed

• Answer any questions you may have

Waiting area

What’s the Difference Between a Pediatric Dentist versus General Practitioner?

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. Pediatric dentists are primary and speciality care providers for infants and children through adolescents, including those with special needs. Pediatric dentist can assess any oral pathology and abnormalities that general practitioners may not be trained to diagnose. Furthermore, pediatric dentists attend two additional years of residency training in dentistry for infants, children, teens, and children with special needs. They are equipped with a team, supplies and equipment to make sure your child not only receives the best possible care, but that he or she is comfortable and has the best possible dental experiences as they grow.

Don’t Forget to Consider Atmosphere

The pediatric dentist offices should be catering to children, with colorful paint and hands-on toys in the waiting room to make the experience fun. Your dentist should also come across as friendly and welcoming.

• Is the dentist office kid-friendly?

• Are the instruments appropriate for your child’s mouth?

• Is the office staff friendly and accessible?

• Is the dentist friendly and accessible?

• Do the dentist and staff explain to your child what to expect?

• Is the atmosphere friendly and positive?

• How does your dentist respond to a scared or crying child?

Preparing your child for the first visit

Here’s a great video from our friends at Colgate that goes through steps to consider as you get ready to take your little one to the dentist for the first time.

If you have any additional questions that we may not have covered here, feel free to reach out to us as any time either by email at info@ballardpediatricdentistry.com, on the phone at (206) 946-6970 or on Facebook. We look forward to hear from you!