Dental care is an important and often overlooked part of healthcare. Regular dentist visits throughout childhood can help protect your child’s teeth and encourage good oral hygiene that will see your child through to adulthood and beyond.
If your baby has recently acquired some pearly whites, you’re probably wondering when you should take your child to the dentist. Keep reading to find out what experts recommend when it comes to pediatric dental care and what to expect from your baby’s first dental visit.
When to take your baby to the dentist
You can book your baby’s first dental appointment as soon as your baby’s first tooth erupts. Although there might not be much to see, your child’s dentist will want to check your baby’s teeth and talk to you about dental hygiene. Education is a vital part of every dental appointment, and regular reminders about proper brushing techniques could help to protect your child’s oral health and prevent tooth decay.
Ideally, your baby will have had at least one dental visit by her first birthday. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry advises a dental visit before age one, even for children whose teeth have not erupted yet. This is because pediatric dentistry is about more than checking teeth; education plays an essential role in pediatric oral health.
Attending regular check-ups throughout their early years will help familiarize your child with the dental office. She will become used to the dentist’s office’s sounds, sights, and smells and feel comfortable at future appointments.
How to find a pediatric dentist for your baby
Although you might already have a dentist you know and trust, your baby will benefit from seeing a pediatric dentist. A pediatric dentist specializes in treating babies, toddlers, and children. As well as additional years of specialized pediatric dentistry study after qualifying, pediatric dentists only treat children, making them the experts when it comes to your baby’s teeth.
You should ask other local parents for recommendations for a pediatric dentist for your baby. It needs to be somebody both you and your baby trust and feel comfortable around, as well as somebody with a proven track record of good results and happy patients.
For more advice on finding a pediatric dentist, read What To Look Out For When Selecting The Child’s First Dentist.
What to expect at your baby’s first dental appointment
Your baby’s first dentist visit is a chance for you all to get to know each other. The dentist will take a look in your baby’s mouth but it doesn’t matter too much if your baby won’t open wide enough for a really good look. Your dentist will be able to sneak a crafty peek at her teeth while your baby is busy gurgling and smiling.
Your baby’s first dental visit is an opportunity for you to ask any questions you might have about how to care for your baby’s teeth. The dentist will be able to teach you an optimal brushing technique, advise you on which products are recommended, and impart any other oral health information that might help you protect your baby’s teeth and prevent tooth decay.
Pediatric dentistry is about encouraging healthy habits and equipping parents with the knowledge to help them properly care for their children’s teeth.
You should be positive about your child’s first dental visit so your child won’t worry about future dental appointments. Set off in good time, so you don’t need to rush. Try to be relaxed in the waiting room. If you are anxious about dental appointments, this might be more of a challenge, but it will be worth it if your child learns to enjoy dental visits.
Is there any point in taking a baby to the dentist?
Yes, it’s really important to take your baby to the dentist. Not only will the dentist be able to check your baby’s teeth, but it’s also an opportunity to discuss dental hygiene with you. You’ve looked after your own teeth for years, but you might not know much about how to look after baby teeth. Being informed about good oral health could help your child enjoy a lifetime of good oral health.
How often should toddlers go to the dentist?
Once you have registered with a pediatric dentist, you’ll be advised about how frequently your child needs to attend a dental checkup. Six monthly appointments are usually recommended, although some dentists are happy to see younger children once a year. You should speak to your pediatric dentist to see what is recommended.
More regular appointments could be beneficial for your child. Not only does this help keep children’s oral health at the forefront of your family’s mind, but it also means any potential problems will be spotted (and therefore sorted) sooner.
Age when dental care starts
Though your children will have been attending dentist appointments since before their first birthday, they won’t fully understand the importance of dental care, having their first dental clean toddler maybe challenging. The first dental cleaning occurs sometime between a child’s first and third birthdays.
At your child’s first dental cleaning appointment, the dentist will begin by examining your child’s teeth, gums, jaws, and bite and then using dental instruments to clean away plaque or tartar build-up on your child’s teeth. Your dentist will also show you and your child optimum brushing and flossing techniques.
Regular dental cleaning is vital because it can help to protect your child’s teeth. Some people mistakenly believe milk teeth are less important than permanent teeth (adult teeth). In reality, they have a crucial role to play in your child’s dental development. Baby teeth that decay and fall out early or have to be removed can cause alignment problems and increase the chance of your child needing an orthodontist in the future.
If you’d like to know more about how encouraging good dental hygiene at home, you might like to read How To Teach Children To Practice Good Oral Hygiene.