If you're familiar with the Canadian Dental Association guidelines for early dental care, you're likely aware that children should see the dentist for the first time around their first birthday, or within six months of the eruption of their first tooth. What about their first dental cleaning, though? The answer to this question, like so many others in parenting, is: it depends!
The First Dental Cleaning
Our primary goal when your child comes in for their first dental visit is to ensure that they are comfortable with us and that their teeth are free of decay and erupting normally. We want to make your child's first visit to our office a positive experience and also an educational one, so we'll schedule enough time for you to get to know us and ask us any questions you might have about caring for your child’s smile.
When a child is calm and comfortable, we’ll be able to perform a dental cleaning during their first visit with us. But if your little one is agitated or otherwise uncooperative, we may decide it’s best to wait for the next visit rather than upsetting them further. If your child only has one or two teeth that are just beginning to erupt and you’re brushing them at home, it won’t hurt to wait another six months for their first dental cleaning.
What Else Happens During a First Dental Visit
Because your child is likely still learning to talk at the time of their first checkup, this appointment is as much about you as it is about them! We'll ask you about your child's teeth, diet, medical history, and any oral habits that they may have, like thumb sucking or pacifier use. We’ll also discuss age-appropriate oral hygiene routines and provide your little one with a toddler-size toothbrush, floss picks, and a kid-friendly fluoride toothpaste.
Your child's dentist will examine their teeth, jaw, and soft tissues during this first appointment to assess their health. After that, we apply topical fluoride, which is a critical mineral that prevents decay in toddlers' teeth.
Why Dental Care Matters in the First Year
Children's teeth are more prone to cavities throughout their toddler years, which is why regular dental appointments are so important. If needed, we can use painless, non-invasive techniques like sealants and additional fluoride treatments to prevent tooth decay and other oral health problems.
If your child does not receive routine preventive dental care, they are more likely to suffer tooth decay, infection, dental emergencies, and early tooth loss. Dental problems in children can be painful and embarrassing, and they may have an impact on their general health. Primary teeth are important for development because they allow kids to eat nutritious foods and they’re essential for learning to speak. They should be treated with the same care as adult teeth!