What should I expect at my first dental appointment?

At your first dentist appointment, you will get to know your Kaiser Permanente dental team and have your first dental exam. The dental exam will include:

  • Review of medical and dental history
  • Diagnostic exam, including dental X-rays
  • Gum disease evaluation
  • Tooth decay assessment
  • Head and neck cancer screening
  • Blood pressure check
  • Review medical care gaps (when applicable)

To ensure you’re as comfortable as possible during your visit, our Comfort Menu offers a list of items to help you relax:

  • Pillow
  • Earplugs
  • Headphones/earbuds
  • Squeeze ball
  • Blanket (heated based on your preferences)
  • Lip moisturizer
  • Moist towelette

After your exam, your dentist will share your dental results. Your dentist will also talk with you about treatment and hygiene needs. Each time you return for routine care, we encourage you to see your personal dentist.

When you call to make your first appointment, please let us know if you would like to share dental X-rays from your previous dentist with us. Depending on factors such as image quality and how recently the X-rays were taken, we may be able to use them for your first dentist appointment with us. Dental X-rays are proven safe and are necessary for us to do a comprehensive assessment of your oral health.

What should I expect at my child’s first dental visit?

We recommend that your child’s first dentist appointment take place within 6 months of eruption of the first tooth, or by age 1. At a child’s first dental visit, we strive for a relaxed, get-acquainted experience. A dental assistant will take your child to a dental care station to teach them how to brush and floss. The assistant will also apply fluoride and take dental X-rays if necessary. Then a dentist will finish the visit by examining your child and discussing dental results with you.

If your child is old enough to be nervous about their visit, talk to them first to help limit or overcome anxiety. Explain what will happen, but make it simple. Tell your child that the dentist will “count” and “take pictures” of his or her teeth. Try not to communicate any fear you might have about the dentist to your child. Avoid words like “shots,” “drills,” or “needles.”

Look for children’s books about the dentist to help show your child what happens at a dental visit. They usually contain pictures and let your child see what the inside of a dental office looks like. The more you can talk to your child about visiting the dentist in a calm and positive manner, the more likely they will feel confident in their first dentist appointment.

Although most general dentists routinely care for children, pediatric dentists specialize in the care of infants’, children’s, and teenagers’ teeth. They have 2 to 3 years more training to meet the special needs of these age groups. Pediatric dentists have special training in making children feel at ease and may have offices designed for children. If your child is nervous about visiting the dentist, finding a pediatric dentist could help improve their experience. As children reach their teenage years, many ‘graduate’ to a general dentist, who may have more experience with adult dental needs.