When should you take your baby to the dentist? Does your baby need a dentist appointment if he only has a couple of teeth? What happens during a baby’s trip to the dentist?

I’ve found that a lot of parents ask these questions and feel worried about their child’s first dentist appointment. Yet, the truth is, learning good dental hygiene can be a fun experience for your baby and, a dentist can help you learn how to care for your baby’s teeth better.

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First, you should know that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD) recommends that you take your baby to a dentist when the first tooth appears, or by his first birthday. (Most moms I’ve talked to said their pediatricians suggested a trip to the dentist around their kids’ first birthday.

Sage had his first dentist appointment shortly after his birthday. Overall, the appointment went well. We learned a lot about how to care for Sage’s teeth and it’s a relief to know we’ve started a healthy oral hygiene regimen for him with his dentist. While he didn’t like having his teeth examined, he was comforted by sitting in my lap in the dentist chair. The dentist asked me between each new treatment if it would be okay since it was most likely Sage would cry. Sage did cry but it was just because it was a new experience with strange people not because he was in any pain or was being hurt.

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At the appointment my husband Paul and I learned a lot about how to care for Sage’s teeth. Before the visit to the dentist, Paul and I brushed Sage’s teeth twice a day and thought we were doing a good job, but when they applied the red solution that clings to plaque, (Disclosing tablets or liquid (solution) contain a red food dye (erythrocin) that makes dental plaque easy to see) we were able to see spots we missed while brushing. We learned how we can improve our technique with a few simple changes. His bottom teeth and the bottom half of his top teeth were clean, but we were missing the top of his top teeth at the gumline. We needed to get in there a bit more!

I recommend singing a tooth brushing song or buying a fun toothbrush to make the process a little more fun. We switched Sage to an electronic toothbrush we picked up at Target and he really likes it. It had gotten to the point that he no longer would let us put the regular toothbrush into his mouth so a dentist friend recommended an electric one. We ended up with a fun crayola toothbrush that we decked out in stickers. Sage’s crayola brush Now Sage looks forward to his teeth brushing experience. Here are a few songs to get you started.

Since none of Sage’s teeth touch one another, he said we can wait to start flossing for another 3-6 months. Flossing before two-years-old? Really?! I know, seems weird, but starting all of this at a young age will get Sage comfortable with dental hygiene and develop healthy lifelong practices. (We hope!)

We were also informed by the dentist that they now recommend switching to a fluoride toothpaste as early as 12 months, but just a little bit, since at this age, they swallow it.

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So, what else happened at the appointment?

The dentist examined Sage’s teeth for weak spots, testing for plaque on the teeth and the levels of plaque causing bacteria in his saliva. They also polished his eight, pearly white baby teeth, and painted them with fluoride to strengthen the outer layer of the tooth.

Have you taken your baby to the dentist? If so, when? What part of the experience was most helpful?