Back to articles Your Child's First Visit to the Dentist

Categories: Parenting

A lifelong healthy smile is much easier when you're not scared to visit the dentist! It's really important for your little ones to have a good first visit. Kids should be made to feel comfortable and safe, especially during their first visit, because it might just set the tone for future visits.

A what age should my child visit the dentist?

Babies are usually born with 20 formed teeth in their gums. Between six and twelve months of age, the front two upper and lower teeth will begin to erupt. Your child's first visit to the dental office should occur by 12 months. The dentist will check for normal development. If your toddler has older siblings visiting the dentist, why not have your toddler booked and examined on the same date?

Most children will have their full set of twenty primary teeth erupted by the age of three. Some parents may wonder why tooth decay is a concern for primary or 'baby' teeth, when those teeth will fall out anyhow. It's important to prevent or repair decay in baby teeth to:

  • Prevent damage to the adult tooth forming inside the gum

  • Maintain the space for the adult tooth to come in to (teeth that are lost too early leave an open space which adjacent teeth can drift in to, often causing orthodontic and misalignment problems).

  • Self confidence for your child

  • Chew and eat properly, which aids nutrition and healthy development

Toddlers 1st Visit

It's all about letting little ones explore and become comfortable with the dental office. After that, you'd be surprised how many kids come in with big smiles, eager to see their favourite hygienist or dentist!

Try to schedule their first visit to the dental office in the morning, when your little one is fed, well rested and cooperative. Emphasize the positives of visiting the dentist, such as keeping gums and teeth healthy, and getting a free new tooth brush! Many dental offices also have colouring books or small toys for children to take home after a visit. Ask about these things when booking an appointment and share these positives with your child. If you are experiencing anxiety about your child's first visit, try your best not to share this with your child.

The first dental visit allows for the teeth to be charted and cleaned. Specific needs can be discussed between mom, dad & dentist.

What causes decay?

Sugar in food or beverages, when consumed, team up with bacteria in the mouth and begin to attack the enamel of teeth. Repeated attacks result in cavities. To help reduce the chances of caries, always have kids rinse with water, or better yet, brush after sugary juices or snacks.

My child isn't brushing or flossing regularly? What can I do?

You can visit the Ontario Dental Association website to play free games with your kids, and learn more about children's oral health care. Visit them at:

You can put up a chart or calendar and have kids mark off each day they brush and floss, morning and night. Set goals for them to create winning streaks, or continuous number of days of repeating the positive behaviour. Give them some small rewards and positive encouragement to keep up the good work. This type of positive behaviour modification is very effective.

My little one is really scared! What can I do?

Learn more about laughing gas or sedation dentistry which are both good options for nervous patients of all ages.

Bowmanville Dental offers children's and family dentistry and orthodontics, as well as dentistry while asleep. Learn more at or call 905.697.9799