When should you bring your little troublemaker to the dentist for the first time?
When is your child’s first visit to the dentist? The hair-raising question that parents everywhere dread. Widespread misconceptions have conditioned parents to expect screaming children, teary waterworks, and puppy dog eyes to avoid seeing the dentist. The reality is a little less exciting.
Today, children come in with their parents; they play games (dental, of course) on iPads while they wait; and make new friends with other children. The trick to this bliss? Making sure your little ones are comfortable going to the dentist from the very first time.
Taking your baby for the first dental visit
This question is at the top of everyone’s lips…At what age should I take my child to the dentist for the first time? You should take your baby to see the dentist as soon as he or she starts to show new teeth. According to the Canadian Dental Association, you should take your baby to see a dentist within 6 months of the first tooth erupting or before they turn one year old. Since children grow so fast, a visit every 6 months thereafter is a minimum.
The first visit doesn’t mean getting a procedure – or even an X-ray. A pediatric specialist will keep an eye on your child’s ‘milk teeth’ (temporary teeth) and catch developing infections, plaque and any potential problems. Remember, your child may have temporary teeth till they are 12 years old – so you need to keep them healthy!
Preparing yourself for the visit
Not just your kid, you need to be prepared too. Remember, children will pick up on parents’ anxiety. Stay calm and don’t use words like ‘hurt’, ‘pain’ or ‘scared’.
What happens at the first dentist appointment?
Your child’s first visit to the dentist may be as a baby or pre-school toddler. The dentist will examine gums, tongue, bite, and teeth if they have erupted. The dentist will tell you how you should take care of your baby’s teeth, give you advice on diet and if you should use fluoride toothpaste.
Addressing any dental concerns at the earliest also means less discomfort for your child as they grow older. The dentist will check for crooked and impacted teeth. For older children, X-rays can show if existing teeth have any cavities and if permanent teeth will come out correctly.
If your child needs braces, the sooner they get them the sooner they’ll be able to take them off. Don’t wait for the first toothache to take your son or daughter to the dentists.
Good dental care starts at home
Good dental care begins at home. Start with the essentials: brushing twice a day; making sure food is not stuck in teeth after meals; avoid sugary sweets. When your child is old enough, make sure they floss regularly. Your dentist can teach them how to floss and keep their mouth healthy and clean.
“How do I care for my baby’s first teeth?
Start by cleaning and checking your baby’s mouth every day. Check the gum line to make sure it is healthy. When they show teeth, use a soft baby toothbrush to clean them. As they grow older, you can use a small drop of fluoride toothpaste to clean their mouth. If you are feeling unsure of how to go about it, speak to a dentist. They’ll be able to show you how to care for your baby’s oral health.