When Should You Take Your Baby to the Dentist?

Did you know that most Americans won’t take their children to see their family dentistry practitioner for the first time until they are over two years old? This is much older than both dental and clinical specialists recommend, and leaving it this late can actually set in the beginnings of many dental issues that children and young people face growing up.

In fact, the average age that an American toddler first sees a dentist is over 2 and a half years of age, well over the recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. They recommend that babies should have had their first dental visit by the age of 12 months or at least within the first six months of cutting their first tooth.

Babies typically begin to cut their first teeth by six months of age, and setting up a culture of good oral hygiene and dental care from a young age is vital to ensuring that children will continue to foster good habits well into adolescents and adulthood.

The Importance of that first baby tooth

Among kids who have never visited a dentist, or who have not seen a dental specialist over the last a year, the main reason parents give is that the child is too young or that parents felt they needed more teeth to make the visit worth it. Many parents feel that they need more reassurance from dental practitioners about their child’s first visit, while other parents or guardians will be less likely to want to take their own children until they see it as absolutely necessary because of their own underlying fears about visiting dentists.

Preventative dental treatment, especially for your child’s teeth, can seem like unneeded treatment. Visiting a dentist when there are ‘no issues’ is not something that many adults who have dental phobias are likely to want to do. Unfortunately, this fear can be passed onto children causing many of the issues we see later in life.

The AAPD believes that first teeth should be kept for as long as possible until they begin to fall out and become replaced by their first adult tooth around the age of 6-8 years old.

The milk teeth are absolutely vital for:

  • Helping kids eat proper food of different textures
  • Helping children develop speech and language abilities
  • Helping save space for adult teeth
  • Boosting confidence with a wide smile

Baby teeth are a vital part of teaching children good oral care, as teaching them proper brushing techniques and flossing techniques at a young age is something that will stay with them for a lifetime. Parents can use their first visit to the dentist to learn more about their teeth and how to teach their children as they grow up how to properly care for them, setting in excellent habits for oral health that they will foster into adulthood.

Take The Fear Out Of Dentistry 

As humans, we tend to fear things we do not know, and this is especially true for dentists. We understand that dentists have a bit of a reputation for being places where people are in pain. However, many of the painful procedures can be avoided entirely if we learn to look after our teeth from the very beginning. 

Getting children used to the dental practice and what’s involved in a dental exam, such as the sounds, the sights, and the smells, will encourage them to be less fearful on their first visit and on subsequent visits. It’s very important to build up the trust in your child and your dentist so that, if they should require any more invasive treatments, they are more likely to be relaxed and less nervous because they trust their dental practitioner.

Here are a few tips to prepare your child for their first dentist visit:

  • Take them along to your appointment: Next time you have one of your regular cleaning appointments or check-ups, take them along with you. This will mean they get used to the environment without being under the pressure of being the one in the chair!
  • Make it fun: Thanks to modern inventions like the internet and YouTube, learning about good oral hygiene can be a fun activity for you and your kids. Find some child-centered videos to watch or games to play to help them understand what’s going on. You can even get a full Montessori approved tray activity to teach kids about their teeth and how to clean them!
  • Let your kids experiment: Along the same lines as the educational activities, let your children play the dentist themselves! Angled mirrors can be bought very cheaply online and offer a great way for toddlers to see their own teeth, getting them more excited than nervous about the process!
  • Go when it’s quiet: Call ahead and ask for a quiet time before you book your first appointment. The staff booking your appointment will be familiar with your worries, so explain that you’d like to take your child for the first time but would prefer a quieter time, so it’s not overwhelming for them.

Should children have fluoride? 

Fluoride is a natural mineral found in water, soil, and in the air. Almost all of our drinking water contains some fluoride. Fluoride levels can, however, change depending on where you source your water from, and it will vary from state to state. Not every territory in America adds fluoride to its water supply.

Fluoride has been found to help prevent tooth decay and cavities and even strengthen weakened tooth enamel, and it’s for this reason that we recommend the use of fluoridated toothpaste as soon as the first tooth comes through.

While adults require a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that babies and toddlers only need a small amount, around the size of a grain of rice.

Family Dental Health

Looking after your family’s dental health is our main concern, and this is why we encourage that regular dental check-ups are part of your family routine, especially for young children.

A visit with our child dentist practitioners when your child is young will help to build confidence as well as build comfort at the same time as preventing sometimes painful dental problems.