Prepping for your child’s first dental visit

Starting children on the road to a lifetime of good oral health includes taking them to their first dentist appointment by the age of 1 or 6 months after their first tooth appears.

Importance of the first dental appointment

Right now, most American children don’t visit the dentist until they are 3 or 4 years old — that’s 2 to 3 years too late! Cavities can begin developing as soon as that first tooth appears, which for some children can be as early as 6 months old. Can you imagine having a cavity before you can walk or talk?

What to expect at the first visit

The dentist will start by examining your little one's teeth, jaws and oral tissues to assess their overall growth and development. They will be looking for any cavities, gum issues or mouth injuries. Once the exam is complete, the dentist may clean your child's teeth with a soft toothbrush and recommend a fluoride treatment. This will ultimately depend on your child's age and risk for tooth decay.

A helpful aspect of the first visit will be when they explain and demonstrate different brushing and flossing techniques to help care for your baby's teeth. Your dentist can also provide recommendations on the use of fluoride as well as feeding and snacking practices to keep your child's smile healthy. This is also a great time for caregivers to ask questions and get useful tips on teething, diet and other oral hygiene instructions, as well as information on preventing cavities, accidents and tooth trauma.

At your first visit, be sure to share relevant information about your child with your dentist. This may include medical conditions, medications and any other oral problems they’ve experienced.

Tips for taking care of baby teeth

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    Try not to wash their pacifier or binky with your own mouth — use clean water instead.

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    Start brushing as soon as the first tooth appears in the mouth.

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    Use a tiny rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste from the time the first tooth comes in until age 3.

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    From the ages of 3 to 6, use a small pea-sized amount.

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    Once they have two or more teeth that touch, it’s time to start flossing.

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    Try a teething ring, cool spoon, pacifier or cold washcloth to ease the pain in their gums.

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    Get your child to stop using a pacifier or sucking their thumb before age 3 to keep baby teeth in the proper position.

Many dental plans cover routine checkups and cleanings at 100%, so it can be beneficial to get your child on your plan right away. Delta Dental also makes it easy to find a dentist using our dentist finder at, which allows you to search by your location, plan type and dentist specialty.

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