When should my child first visit the dentist?

This is the question I am asked most frequently, and the answer always surprises parents.

Children should have their first dental visit within 6 months of their first tooth coming through, or by their first birthday at the latest (even if they don’t yet have a tooth by this time).

First Birthday = First Dental Visit is not only recommended by the Australian Dental Association, but the American and British equivalents as well.


Why should my child visit the dentist when they don’t have all their teeth?

A standard follow-up question to the above, and I get it, if children’ don’t have all their teeth, what’s the point of a dental visit?

While the actual “look in the mouth” may be quite quick, early visits aim to arm you with tailored information to reduce your child’s risk of developing decay.

Prevention is MUCH cheaper, less stressful, less time consuming, and better for your child’s wellbeing than intervention.

And with 1 in 3 Aussie children developing tooth decay before starting school, it’s devastatingly common.

It’s also crucial so start building your child’s dental home. Somewhere they feel comfortable attending, and to build compliance for preventative treatment, like cleans and x-rays. If there’s an emergency, it’s somewhere your child has been before and knows it is a place they are safe.


Who should my child see/where should they have their first visit?

All dentists are trained to see children, however, paediatric dentistry is its own specialty area. Like with all industries, working with children is a specialised skill.

It’s important to find someone who has patience with your child and to answer all your questions. Remember: first visits are about arming you with everything you need to know to reduce your child’s risk of developing decay.

Asking family and friends for recommendations where their children have positive experiences can be a great way to find local practices.
Paediatric specialist dentists see only children and their practices are tailored and kid-friendly, however can be more expensive. You don’t need a referral to see a paediatric dentist and can contact them directly.

All Victorian children are eligible for treatment through the public system and you can find your nearest clinic here.

My top questions to ask when booking is what age they recommend children attend for their first visit (anything other than 1st birthday is a red flag they are not the right dentist for your child!)

What should I expect in a first dental visit?

Expect lots and lots of talking. I cover history (medical, dental, trauma, family), oral hygiene (including if they should be flossing and techniques for brushing at home), individual risk factors (diet, alignment, developmental defects), habits (thumb sucking/dummies), airway (snoring/sleep quality) and answering any and all questions with tailored advice.

My preference for the check-up is a lap-to-lap position. It’s effective because bub is still able to see mum/dad’s face and puts them in the perfect position to see quickly and effectively.

There are often some tears, but we follow-up with lots of cuddles, a sticker, and a toothbrush which bring back lots of smiles.

I have more questions!

Feel free to send me a message on here or on Facebook or Instagram, @drbethanystoothtales.