When Does A Child Start Seeing The Dentist?
When should you organize your child’s first dentist visit?
It’s a question that all parents will have to ask themselves at one point but what is the correct answer?
Read on to discover when you need to book your child’s first dental appointment and what you can expect during this visit to the dentist. Plus, discover how you can best look after your children’s oral health and prevent tooth decay.
When does a child start seeing the dentist?
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), you should book a dental appointment for your child as soon as their first tooth appears. This typically occurs when your child is around 6 months old.
Although some parents are tempted to wait until their child hits a certain age before starting to book regular dental check-ups – as soon as they get their first tooth, they need to undergo a dental exam.
Furthermore, if you notice any problems with your child’s mouth such as bleeding gums, white spots or lesions, then make a dentist appointment as soon as possible regardless of whether they have their baby’s teeth yet.
Why do you need to take your child to the dentist so soon?
Although it may seem strange to take your child or young children to the dentist before they properly have teeth, it is important that you do this to help catch any conditions early on and to prevent tooth decay and other dental health issues including potential problems with their permanent teeth.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry highlight that looking after the baby teeth is important as they help a child learn to talk and chew correctly, as well as forming a pathway to help the permanent teeth erupt.
In the United States, tooth decay affects as many as 1 in 5 children, so you need to make sure you are taking your child’s oral health seriously.
When you visit your pediatric dentist, they will be able to check your child’s mouth for any problems such as tooth decay, injuries and any other potential issues. They will also be able to track your child’s tooth development to make sure that they are developing as and when they should be.
What to expect when bringing your child to the dentist for the first time?
You may be feeling nervous at the thought of taking your child for their first dental visit so it can help to know what you can expect to happen.
During your child’s first check-up at the dentist, you will be in the room with them. If they are not happy to or not able to sit in the dentist’s chair, they may ask you to hold them still on your lap.
The dentist will then perform a routine examination of your child’s mouth. This will include looking for signs of tooth decay, as well as checking their gums, jaw and bite.
They will also carefully clean your child’s teeth and gums and offer you advice on how to take care of their oral health. This is now the perfect opportunity to ask any questions you may have about looking after your child’s teeth.
At bafdentistry, our dentists are highly experienced in caring for children’s teeth and know exactly what to do and say to put your child at ease.
How to prepare your child for their first dental appointment
Before you have scheduled your child for their first dentist visit, there are several things that you can do to help prepare them. These are as follows:
- Show your child videos about first dental visits so that they can gain a better understanding of what to expect.
- Have a regular gum and tooth cleaning routine at home so that they are used to having their mouth touched and care for.
It can also be a good idea to write down a list of any questions you may have for your child’s dentist in advance so that you don’t forget anything.
How to care for your child’s first teeth
Caring for your child’s teeth and gums is hugely important and you need to start caring for their mouth even before their first tooth appears.
Before your child gets their first tooth, you should rub a damp cloth over their gums to help keep them clean and wash away any harmful bacteria.
Once their first tooth makes an appearance, follow the below oral healthcare tips to keep their mouth in optimal condition:
- Brush their teeth with an age appropriate toothbrush and toothpaste. You may want to talk to your dentist about whether or not to use a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- When your child has teeth that touch each other, gently floss them once a day.
- When your child reaches the age of two, start showing them how to spit after brushing.
There are also steps that you can take to help prevent tooth decay such as:
- Do not put them to sleep with a bottle, as the milk or juice will stay on their teeth all night and eat away at the enamel.
- At six month’s old, switch your baby’s bottle for a sippy cup as this will help to prevent liquid from pooling in their mouth.
- Cut down on sugar in their diet and instead give your child savory snacks and drinks that do not contain sugar.
- If you do give your child fruit juice, do this at mealtimes and try to dilute it to 1 part juice, 5 parts water.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends at least brushing with a soft bristled toothbrush once a day before bed.
If your child does not like brushing their teeth, it can be a good idea to make a game out of this daily activity so that it is more fun than a chore for them. Alternatively, try brushing your teeth at the same time so that they can copy what you are doing.
If your baby has dummy, then this is fine but try to take this away by the time they reach one year of age as using a dummy after this time can encourage an open bite which is when the teeth move to make space for the dummy. Using a dummy after 12 months can also delay their speech development.