A common question we hear from parents, especially first time parents, is when should we bring my child in for their first dental visit? If you are like me you get online and Google the question. In preparing for this short article we did the same thing to see what advice was being given by the “experts” or people just giving their own experience of what they did. The answers ranged anywhere from one year to five years (definitely not recommended). So when is the best time to bring them in?
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that a child be seen by the dentist at about the one year mark or about 6 months from the time they get their first tooth. Some may ask, why so early as there may only be a few teeth and they are easy to take care of? From a dental standpoint, there are a few good reasons to see them so early.
First and possibly most important, it is a great chance for the dentist to sit down with the parent(s) and educate them on things such as diet, the need to teach the child good brushing habits by actually brushing their teeth for them or after they do for the first few years. Sometimes we wish we could get away with having parents do it even through the teenage years. Other things we usually talk about are when the teeth should erupt and in what order, when to worry about habits such as pacifiers, thumb sucking and grinding and what to do about the bottle at night.
During the brief exam, we check to make sure nothing is abnormal about the gums, tongue, lips and other tissues in the mouth. We check the teeth to make sure they are erupting properly and are normal in shape, color and size.
Maybe one of the biggest benefits of bringing them in at this age is that we can begin to build a relationship with them right away and help them feel comfortable coming in to the office. Let’s be honest, most experiences kids have early on in clinical settings involve a shot and a Band-Aid. Early regular visits with the dentist help alleviate these worries and make future dental experiences much easier. If for some reason they ever have to come in to have dental work beyond a cleaning done they are much more relaxed and have a much better experience.
These are just a few good reasons to have your child visit the dentist around the one year mark. A great way to accomplish this is to have them come to your dental visit and have the dentist look at their teeth after your cleaning. That way they see mom or dad have a good experience and they feel more comfortable having their own teeth looked at. If you have any questions, we are always available to answer them!