As a parent, it seems logical to take your child to your family dentist for their first dentist visit when they begin to develop adult teeth, but contrary to popular belief, you should actually be going before then. Many parents have been wrapped within a world of false health tips for the longest time, as the stigma around dental hygiene and late bloom fall under that category! It is essential to understand the proper way to care for your child’s teeth so that you can engrave healthy dental care in their mind at a young age. This will in turn produce great oral health and implement excellent dental hygiene to last them a lifetime!
When Should Your Child Attend Their First Dentist Visit?
The work of a dentist is to improve the oral health of an individual as they take care of not only their teeth but also the rest of their mouth and gums. Therefore, you should not need to wait until your child has developed their first teeth to take them to their first dentist visit. While you should absolutely take your child in for a check-up once you see those first baby teeth begin to peek through, this certainly should not be the first time your child has ever had a check-up.
Most infants get their first teeth at the age of six months. It is recommended by the American Dental Association for children to have their first dentist visit within six months of developing their first tooth. However, their first dental appointment should not be when they are above the age of 12 months, regardless of the presence of their teeth. If your child is 1 year old and has not gotten their first tooth, you should most definitely take them for a dental exam to rule out any underlying issues!
Benefits of Your Child’s First Dentist Visit at a Young Age
Around 36% of the population feel anxious when going to their first dentist visit. Therefore, taking your child when they are younger to the dentist will reduce some of the fears that adults have when they visit the dentist. It will show them from an early age that there is nothing to fear about the dentist, but rather that it is a safe and happy place.
During this first dentist visit, not much prodding or poking is to be expected, allowing for young children to familiarize themselves with the clinic and get to know the staff. Booking these appointments early on in their life will create a sense of fun and ease that will in turn make your child excited to go see the dentist.
Visiting the dentist early can also aid in educating parents on the dos and don’ts of the dental world. The dentist can show you how to properly clean your child’s gums and teeth, give recommendations for dealing with a pacifier or finger-sucking habit, as well as provide you with relevant information pertaining to creating habits for healthy eating. These things will all prevent the decaying of teeth in your child from a very young age.
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Expectations for First Dentist Visit
Expect your child’s first dentist visit to be short, as there is normally not much treatment to be done at this time. This is the chance for your child to meet the dentist in an environment that is not threatening.
Your child can sit in the dental chair alone if they are old enough, however, if your child is younger the dentist will have you hold them on your lap while they examine their mouth. The dentist will check for any signs of tooth decay or check their gums if teeth are not yet present at the first dentist visit. This is done to examine the teeth that are about to erupt. After this, the dentist will then assess any potential jaw or gum problems that have been brought to light.
During your child’s first dentist visit, the dentist may not do a full cleaning, especially if the child is younger. This is because dentists normally wait until the child is familiar and more comfortable with the office to use more intrusive equipment. Many children receive their first X-ray slides when they are 5-6 years old. However, your child may have their first x-rays done earlier if they are at risk of developing dental issues. The dentist will be able to determine this.
At around 6 years, children start getting their permanent teeth and x-rays will aid in the dentist’s assessment of the adult teeth and their development. To establish a solid relationship with the dentist, you should be able to ask questions at the end of the appointment to clarify anything that was not mentioned originally. And if your child is old enough, encourage them to ask questions on their own so that they can begin to build a healthy relationship and form a bond at their first dentist visit.
The following are some of the questions that are typically asked at a child’s first dentist visit or early on in their life:
- Is it necessary for my child to get fluoride?
- How do I ensure that my child is getting the nutrition needed for optimum oral health?
- What do I need to do when my child knocks out their baby tooth?
- What should I do if my child is feeling pain caused by teething?
- How often should I take my child to the dentist?
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Why It Is Important to Care About Cavities in Primary Teeth?
It is important to take care of your baby’s primary teeth because it allows them to speak fluidly, chew properly, and make movements effortlessly with their mouth and face. By the time they are 3 years old, most children have developed 20 of their primary teeth.
These teeth keep space in the mouth of the child. If there is a cavity in one that must be pulled or falls out, the structure of the mouth is affected, making it difficult for adult teeth to grow. When primary teeth are in their proper place, speech and proper pronunciation are facilitated. These minor details are actually the most crucial part of a child’s adult life. Lack of care and direction when it comes to teeth can lead to years of braces, lisps, and improper pronunciation of certain words. This is why it is crucial to take your child to their first dentist visit at a very early age!
It is of utmost importance to take your child to their first dentist visit at an early age. This is because waiting too long can affect your child’s oral health drastically for the rest of their life. Adopting healthy habits such as brushing your child’s teeth twice a day and flossing regularly will promote your child’s dental hygiene. This as well as your child’s first dentist visit from a young age will set them up for healthy dentist checkups for the rest of their lives through adulthood. Something each and every one of us will benefit from for the rest of our lives!
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