Your Child’s First Visit to the Dentist: The “Lap Prophy”

Child at denitst's first visit

Most general dentists will advocate that your child see a dentist for their first visit no later than age 2. Pediatric dentists suggest by age 1. A majority of dentists will say to begin when your child starts showing teeth. I agree with them all. Children develop at different rates, so age 1 is great to set the precedent and start early; age 2 as a cutoff is exactly right; but if your child is cutting teeth very early, bring him or her on in!


You may wonder what we actually do at this visit: Your child barely has any teeth, they only have their baby teeth, what could we really be doing to make this visit worth your effort?


New parents benefit the most from this visit, as we do something called “anticipatory guidance,” and this is when we educate mom, dad, grandma, whoever accompanies you and your child to their first visit, on what to expect as your child develops. There are so many things that are normal in child tooth development that seem strange to the new parent, one of which is that the teeth will appear out of order. The teeth commonly will erupt in a classic pattern that is different from what the parent would expect, and they may panic and think their child is missing a tooth. Another is that each tooth develops with “mammalons,” which are developmental bumps on the teeth that go away with wear. Nothing is wrong with those teeth. Deciduous or “baby” teeth can come out yellow or blue, even grey in color because of the thinness of the teeth. Do not worry. This is not an indicator as to the color of the adult teeth when they make their appearance. The biggest concern parents have seems to be the spacing. Baby teeth are smaller than adult teeth, and develop with spaces between them called “primate space” or “leeway space” to accommodate the future, larger adult tooth. This is also normal; do not panic!


There are so many things to consider when your child starts teething to pave the way to a beautiful and healthy mouth. Bring your little one in to have their first “lap cleaning,” where we lay them in our lap and play, and look at their teeth to get them used to having a dentist peek in their mouth, and to educate the family on what to expect. You know times flies by; don’t let their baby teeth come and go before taking them to the dentist!