When it comes to their child’s dental health, parents often wonder when the first visit to the dentist should be. According to AGD (Academy of General Dentistry), your child should see a dentist at around six months old or once the first tooth appears.
The eruption of the first tooth is an excellent opportunity for the dentist to recommend necessary care and approaches to help ensure the child’s dental health. At this point, the dentist will be able to discuss issues such as mouth cleaning, infant feeding, and tooth decay brought on by baby bottle use. He/She can also consider other concerns that can impact your child’s dental health, such as pacifier habits, finger sucking, and infant feeding practices.
Preparing Your Child
It’s recommended to schedule your child’s first visit in the morning when children tend to be fresh and more alert.
If your child is older or is a preschooler, start by discussing the appointment, so he/she understands what the visit is all about. Explain the importance of going to the dentist. Turn the appointment into an exciting activity while building an understanding of the procedure.
Once you arrive at the dentist’s clinic, provide a complete medical history of your child. Let the dentist know how your child would react to new things, whether he/she is fearful, defiant, stubborn, hysterical, or uncooperative.
Observe how your child reacts. It is important to anticipate possible responses to certain situations, particularly new, strange ones. Inform the dentist right away.
It is also good to note that certain behaviors are related to your child’s age. Here’s what to expect.
At 10-24 months – Some children may experience what is known as developmental separation. They may become upset and anxious when they are separated from their parents.
At 2-3 years – A child who is securely attached may be capable of coping with a brief separation from the parent. For a two-year-old, the word “no” is a common reply to questions and suggestions.
At three years – Children of this age cannot be expected to allow themselves to be separated from parents for treatments such as restorations and filling. Most children of this age are not mature socially.
At four years – Most children of this age may be capable of sitting away from their parents during examinations and treatment.
Your First Visit
Most first visits are an opportunity for the child to be acquainted with the dentist, clinic staff, and common dental procedures. Your child’s first visit will usually last for 30-45 minutes. The visit may include certain procedures depending on your child’s age. These are an examination of the jaws, gums, teeth, bite, and dental/oral tissues to check proper growth and development, and gentle cleaning which may include teeth polishing and removal of stains, plaque, and tartar.
Your dentist may also demonstrate how to properly clean and floss your child’s teeth at home. The dentist will also assess if your child requires fluoride. Since baby teeth will fall out, the dentist is not likely to recommend X-rays. This procedure will only be used in case the baby tooth root is affecting the growth of the adult tooth and will only be recommended in young patients when absolutely necessary.
Your Second Visit
Children should visit the dentist every six months, just like adults. Depending on the overall dental health of the child, the dentist may recommend visits every three months so he/she can monitor developmental issues.
Protecting Your Child’s Teeth At Home
Always keep your child’s mouth clean even before the first tooth erupts.
Once the first tooth appears, begin a simple brushing practice using a small toothbrush with soft bristles. For a two-year-old child, use a tiny pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Make sure the child can spit the toothpaste out when done brushing.
To prevent tooth decay due to baby bottle use, do not give the child juice, milk, and other sweetened liquids before bedtime or before naps.
Limit bottle feeding time. A young child should be able to finish a bottle in about 5 minutes, 6 minutes tops. Once the bottle is empty, take the bottle away to clean.
To encourage good dental health, assist your child in brushing his/her teeth until he/she is six years old. You may also want to brush your teeth together so your child can watch you and learn from you.
Limit foods and other treats that increase the risk of tooth decay, such as hard, sticky candies, sweetened juice and drinks, and fruit leather. Instead of fruit juice, offer the fruit instead. Fruit contains fiber that helps scrape off food debris from teeth. Juice, on the other hand, contains sugar that causes tooth decay.