Most parents are jittery at the thought of taking their child to a dentist for the first time. But when your child’s gummy and toothless smile has gone away and tiny white bites are appearing, it’s time to overcome your fears and make their first dental appointment.
If you are waiting for your child to grow old enough to have all their teeth come in, or when they have a real tooth problem is the time for their first dental appointment, you are very wrong. According to the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child’s first visit to a dentist should be when their first tooth erupts, which will be before their first birthday. A general rule they state is that a child should make that visit six months after the eruption of their first tooth, and not later than after the age of two.
Taking your child at such a young age is not actually for any real dental work, but in fact, it should be made to introduce your child to a dental office at a young age so that they get comfortable with the dentists from the start. It will also aid in finding out any dental problems that may exist beforehand, and check on whether the teeth cleaning done at home is being done correctly. You can take them to your personal dentist, especially if they have experience with young children. But you can also consider a pediatric dentist, who is a dentist that specializes in caring for children’s oral health in particular, and are trained on dealing with fussy kids.
Therefore, there are several reasons to take your child for regular dental checkups:
- Your child will learn that visiting a dentist is beneficial in prevention of tooth problems, and overcome anxiety and fear of a dentist in the future.
- To check if any existing tooth problems exist and be fixed before they grow into problems like unclear speech, difficulty in chewing, and straightly aligned teeth.
- To get an examination on the fluoride and calcium intake by the child and guide you if it is insufficient.
- You will learn the right way to clean you child’s teeth with the dentist’s guidance.
- It leads to a lifetime of healthy oral care habits in a child.
The first appointment will be a simple icebreaker between the child and dentist. The dentist will help your child overcome their uneasiness and non-cooperation calmly. Take a few comfort toys or distraction tools with you, and remember to treat them after the first visit to keep them positive for their next time. There may be a few appointments made to gain the child’s confidence and comfort with the dentist. A first session will last between 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the age and trust level of the child.
You can prepare your infant for their fist visit by asking the dentist about what will happen at the appointment, and tell your child about it. Teach them about being cooperative by telling them what to expect.
Just like adults, children should see the dentist every six months. Interim visits are needed after three months if a developing problem needs to be treated. Bottle-fed infants and milk teeth require gum and jaw checkups for the examination of bottle caries or frenum issues. Such problems, if not encountered earlier, lead to speech problems and cavities.
When the child will be 3 years old, they will have full dental checkups. An x-ray is done between the ages of 4 to 6 to check for any cavities forming between the teeth of the child. Keep in mind: these x-rays are very safe for all ages. After the child passes the age of 6, their milk teeth will fall and permanent teeth are set to grow. A dentist suggests a sealant during this time, which is a plastic resin used for bonding the teeth’s chewing surface. This resin keeps any cavity forming bacteria away from the molars and tooth gaps. The dentist is also able to identify the jaw growth to see if the teeth grow in perfect alignment instead of crooked teeth. Braces are used at an early stage then to ensure a beautiful smile for later on in life.
Ensure your child’s medical conditions or medications being used on them is foretold to the dentist upon the first visit. But keep in mind, the sooner your child goes to a dentist after teething, the better.