How to Make Your Baby’s First Dental Visit Full of Fun


Life with a new baby is full of the most wonderful things—mornings spent snuggling, coos and laughs, and a whole host of milestones. It seems like babies change at lightning speed, often leaving parents wondering how to best support their child through these stages of development. First steps, first words—babies are full of very exciting firsts. We are here to help busy parents celebrate baby visiting the dentist for the first time.

When Should I Take My Baby To Their First Visit?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) all recommend that parents take their child to the dentist by their first birthday. Starting dental care early will help with preventative care, establish a relationship with a trusted dental practice, and build good dental hygiene habits.

Many parents wonder how they can find a dentist that will be a good fit for their child and family. A pediatric dentist provides exceptional care, with special attention given to the needs of children from infancy through their teenage years. Babies, and baby teeth, have different needs than adults. A pediatric dentist is trained in how to best care for your child as they get their baby teeth and later their adult teeth.

What better occasion to establish good dental hygiene habits than when little one is enjoying their delicious first birthday smash cake?

When Should I Register My Child With A Dentist?

Finding the right “dental home” is very important for more than just making sure they get their routine cleanings and checkups. The AAPD stresses the importance of a “dental home” in providing continuous and comprehensive dental health care. It can take months to build a feeling of comfort in a new place. This is where a pediatric dentist can help and why it is so important to find the right “dental home” early.

As a baby starts to toddle, walk, and run, they are inevitably going to get their share of bumps and bruises. Having a trusted “dental home” in these situations is key. Knowing where to ask questions and take your child when they do get scraped up can help many parents enjoy the toddler years with less worry.

What Can I Expect During A Dental Visit?

The purpose of a first visit is to establish good habits as much as it is about the exam itself. The dentist will start examining your child by looking at the teeth and gums for possible disease, irregularities, and inflammation. Age-appropriate tooth and gum cleaning, along with a fluoride varnish application and dental x-rays, can also be done.

The first visit is also full of conversation. The dentist will ask about health information, diet, and habits, such as brushing teeth, feedings, and pacifier or thumb/finger sucking. Caring for your baby’s oral health goes beyond just cleaning their teeth and gums; building healthy dental habits is our number one goal.

Establishing comfort and confidence between baby, parents, and the dental team is an important part of that first visit.

Incorporating healthy snacks is important for your child’s overall health as well as their teeth and gums. Sticky foods and carbohydrates should only make up a small portion of their snacks. Your pediatric dentist will go over good snack choices. We find that involving parents leads to more comprehensive care, lifelong healthy habits, and happier and healthier kids.

The Right Dentist Can Make It Fun For Everyone!

Because visits to the dentist include education for parents, you are invited to stay with your child throughout the entire treatment, with the exception of sedation appointments. We do ask that you let us give your child directions when needed, to minimize confusion during the exam. We will show you how to care for your child’s teeth by brushing and flossing, including which toothbrush and how much toothpaste to use.

The team will make sure to keep the visit positive and fun, refraining from using words like “needle” or “pull” that could make your child nervous.

Reading a book can help prepare your child for their upcoming visit. This is especially useful for toddlers and older children. These recommended books can get your child excited about a visit to the dentist.

  • Show Me Your Smile! A Visit to the Dentist (Dora the Explorer) by Christine Ricci, Robert Roper
  • Just Going to the Dentist, a Golden Look-Book
  • Barney Goes to the Dentist by Linda Cress Dowdy
  • Going to the Dentist by Anne Civardi, Michelle Bates, and Stephen Cartwright
  • The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan Berenstain, Jan Berenstain
  • What to Expect When You Go to the Dentist by Heidi Murkoff

Follow-on care is just as important as overall dental health. A trained pediatric dentist can provide the best for your child in preventative care, orthodontics, and restorative care.

When Should I Start Brushing My Infants Teeth?

Even before there are any visible teeth, parents should be cleaning their gums with a soft washcloth after feedings. This helps keep their mouths clean and prevent build-up of the sugars that can lead to dental problems.

Many parents know to limit the amount of sugary beverages, such as sodas or juice, that their child consumes. But did you know that formula and milk (including breastmilk) can cause tooth decay and other dental problems in the same way? This specific condition is known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. Putting a child to bed with a bottle can make this condition even more pronounced. If the child needs a bottle to fall asleep, make sure that it is filled with water rather than formula or milk.

A baby needs adequate amounts of these nourishing liquids to grow and develop, so don’t limit their consumption. Just make sure to wipe their mouth clean after each feeding, including at night, to keep their gums and teeth healthy. A simple swipe of a clean washcloth will do the trick.

Once you see that first baby tooth eruption, it’s time to get out the baby-sized toothbrush and go to town. Parents should brush the tooth (and the surrounding gums) twice a day after the first tooth has appeared. When they are old enough, you can time your child brushing their teeth to make sure that they get all areas. You can also sing a song while brushing to help your young child know how long they need to brush.

A Teething Baby

Getting those baby teeth in is no walk in the park. Just ask any parent of a child under the age of 2 and they will cringe at just the word teething. Fortunately, there are a few things to help alleviate the discomfort of teething that also build healthy dental habits.

Teething gels and tablets are not recommended. Instead, have the baby gnaw on a cool teething ring, washcloth, or even a clean finger. If needed, you can give your child baby acetaminophen (Tylenol), following the dosage guide.

Brushing teeth is an important part of caring for their dental health. It also has the added benefit of providing relief to a teething baby. You will find that many babies enjoy having their gums massaged with a toothbrush. A cold, wet washcloth can also help.

When Should My Baby Start Using Toothpaste?

Toothpaste amounts depend on the age of your child. Babies and toddlers under 3 years of age can use a ‘rice-grain’ amount of toothpaste. Children 3 years old and up can use a ‘pea-sized’ squirt on their toothbrush. Just like the dentist, you can make brushing baby’s teeth fun with songs, dances, and colorful toothbrushes. After all, good dental hygiene and healthy mouths are fun!

We are here to help you care for your baby’s teeth from the very beginning. Finding the right “dental home” can help parents know that they are doing the very best for their kids and their overall health. The first dental visit is an important milestone that we know will put a big smile on their face.

We help busy parents put healthy smiles on their kids by making a visit to the dentist fun!

St.Johns County Loves Our Dental Office

We're Proud To Have The Best Pediatric Dentist Rating Possible

Dr.Susie is literally heaven sent! On Father’s Day my daughter had an injury and lost her front tooth. I immediately took her to the ER however they do not handle any dental trauma. The RN at the ER googled emergency dental care and this location popped up. I’m so grateful to have reached Dr.Susie. I explained the circumstances and she immediately provided care, empathy and guidance. She offered to meet me at the office and replace the tooth in the socket and perform the necessary procedure to save the tooth. During the process the dr was kind and caring. Speaking positivity to my 11 yr old daughter who was beyond scared. Dr.Susie set proper expectations about the next steps. I really appreciate this pediatric dentist office. From the front desk agent Ms.Teresa to Dr.Susie I felt 100% supported and valued.
Laura P.
Laura P.
I highly recommend St. Johns Pediatric Dentistry. I have been taking my two girls here for years, and I can’t say enough about the exceptional care they provide. My daughters get excited when I tell them they are going to the dentist! They can't wait to pick out their own movie, put on those cool sunglasses, and select a reward at the end. The entire staff is welcoming, caring, understanding, and incredibly patient. The team goes above and beyond to make patients (and parents) feel comfortable.
Lisa L.
Lisa L.
By far, the best pediatrics dentist I have ever brought my children to. The kids are so comfortable and happy to be there. My 2 year old doesn't even want to leave. 🥰 They are professional, respectful, kind, and care about our children.🙏 I am so grateful for Saint John's pediatrics dentistry after we had a bad experience at Jacksonville's children's surgical center.
Rachel L.
Rachel L.
Dr. Laura has seen both of my girls since their first appointments. My oldest is 11, and she’s always seen Dr. Laura. She is amazing! She is kind, gentle, considerate and knowledgeable. We are thankful for her and all the staff. The office is run so smoothly. This is truly a wonderful place to take children for dentistry.
I CANNOT say enough good things about this place. We’ve been going almost 2 years now and it’s such a pleasant experience every time. Had a couple non-routine visits, chipped tooth today for example, and they do everything they can to help you, explain to you the situation, potential problems. But also assure you that things are probably fine, just keep an eye, etc. They don’t push procedures at all like regular dentists, they explain what can be done, and then explain when certain things aren’t necessary. They are not money hungry at all, excellent dentists, excellent hygienists/assistants. I will definitely keep bringing my kids here and keep recommending this place.
Jess R.
Jess R.
We love St. Johns Pediatric Dentistry! The lobby is adorable and the staff is amazing. Once you are in the back, the kids feel safe, comfortable and entertained while their exam is happening. Thank you for being awesome!
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