A Guide to Your Child’s First Dental Check-Up
Like most parents, you likely expect to take your toddler to the dentist once their first few teeth have appeared. However, that’s not always the best decision. Many are surprised to learn how early that first appointment should come. It’s important to know how to care for your child’s teeth so you can set them up for a lifetime of oral health. Here, you’ll learn more about a child’s first dental check-up.
When Should Kids Go to the Dentist?
Our dentists don’t just take care of patients’ teeth—they do so much more. Therefore, a child’s first visit should come before their first teeth appear. For most children, that happens at about six months of age. The American Dental Association recommends that parents start oral care for children before they’re a year old.
The Advantages of Early Dental Care
Roughly one-third of patients experience some level of anxiety when visiting the dentist. Getting a child used to going while they’re young may reduce their fear when they’re older. Dentists don’t do much prodding or poking during the first few visits, making it easier for kids to get to know the office staff and familiarize themselves with the environment. By making the first few appointments fun, parents can lessen their kids’ anxiety.
Early appointments are teaching moments for parents as well. Our dentists will show you how to clean your toddler’s gums and teeth, and they’ll offer helpful tips on establishing eating habits that minimize the risk of tooth decay. A dentist can also make suggestions on ending pacifier and thumb-sucking habits.
The First Visit: What to Expect
A child’s first office visit will be rather short. Depending on their age, most kids need little treatment. The initial office visit is a time for kids to meet their dentist in a safe, fun environment. During the check-up, our dentists will inspect the child’s teeth for symptoms of decay. If their teeth haven’t appeared yet, we’ll inspect the gums and look for teeth that are ready to erupt. Any potential jaw and gum problems will be evaluated. Dentists don’t always do full cleanings on younger children; they wait until kids become more familiar with the office and its equipment.
Many parents wonder when their children will receive their first dental X-rays. Most kids have their first slides taken before the age of six, but those at high risk of dental issues may have X-rays taken sooner. Children typically start getting their permanent teeth at about that time, and slides help dentists assess the growth and development of those teeth.
The dentist will answer your questions and address your concerns, allowing you and your child to establish a good relationship with us. If your child is old enough, we welcome their questions as well. Some of the most common questions our patients’ parents ask are:
- How can I ensure that my child’s diet supports their oral health?
- Will my child need a fluoride treatment?
- What will happen if they lose one of their baby teeth early?
- How often should dental appointments be scheduled?
- What can I do to lessen my child’s teething pain?
As kids get older, we’ll offer advice on dental sealants, loose teeth, X-rays, and proper flossing techniques. Call today to schedule your child’s first appointment with one of our friendly dentists. We look forward to meeting your family!
Cavities in Baby Teeth: Why It’s Important to Address Them Early
Some parents wonder why oral care is so important when young children typically lose their primary teeth at an early age. A child’s first teeth help them speak, chew, and move their mouths properly. Most kids have all their primary teeth by three years of age.
The primary teeth serve an important function: they hold space inside a child’s mouth. If one of these teeth falls out, is pulled, or develops a significant cavity, the spacing of other teeth may be affected and it might be hard for the permanent teeth to come in. Having baby teeth in the right places will also facilitate proper speech and pronunciation. Furthermore, cavities that spread through the primary teeth can lead to severe infections, where dangerous bacteria harm the jawbone and gums.
It’s important for parents to treat decay in a child’s primary teeth. If a cavity gets worse while waiting for an affected tooth to come out, it will cause serious issues. It’s easier to bring your child in for a routine office visit than for a complex procedure. Detecting and treating cavities early will help establish a positive attitude about future dental visits.
Promoting Better Oral Health in Children: It Starts Early
Scheduling twice-yearly check-ups helps to remind kids and parents of the importance of oral health. However, it’s just as important to support good habits between office visits. Brush your child’s teeth twice per day. Our dentists can show you how to do it, with the method depending on the child’s age. It’s best for parents to supervise their children’s brushing until good habits are established. Kids tend to imitate what they see, and by setting a good example, you’ll make proper oral care a lifetime habit.
Between brushings and office visits, help your kids make good lifestyle choices. Don’t allow kids to sleep with bottles of liquid that aren’t water, as juices, formulas, and milk contain sugar—which is known to cause tooth decay. For additional advice and age-specific oral care recommendations, schedule an appointment with one of our dentists today.
With Regular Office Visits, Parents Can Establish Good Oral Care Habits That Last a Lifetime
While many parents believe that early office visits are unnecessary because kids lose their baby teeth, it’s best to bring them in to the office while they’re young. Waiting to seek treatment isn’t just a bad idea; it can be detrimental to a child’s oral health. Let our team set your child up as a new patient and put them on the road to a lifetime of great oral health.