New parents are often not sure about when they should take their child to the dentist for the first time. They wonder if they should wait until the child has sprouted a certain number of primary teeth, or if they should wait until they encounter a visible dental issue. However, we encourage our patients’ families to be proactive! The American Dental Association advises that a child should first visit a pediatric dentist when they get their first tooth (which is usually before they turn two).
Why Should I Take My Child to the Dentist Early On?
The purpose of a child’s first pediatric dentist appointment is not necessarily for any dental work, but more so to evaluate their oral health and familiarize your child with the dentist. It is important that your child is not afraid of the dentist, and feels excited and comfortable when they have an appointment. Once your child feels comfortable with the dentist, the doctor can take a quick look to evaluate their current oral health and make recommendations. Taking them to the pediatric dentist at an early age can also help your child build a trusting relationship with the staff so that they have positive feelings towards visiting the dentist. During their first visit, they will also be able to familiarize themselves with the tools that dentists use, and parents can create fun names for the tools that may be otherwise frightening.
When the dentist is examining your child’s mouth, they will be able to check the health of their gums as well as any signs of tooth decay. Lastly, the pediatric dentist will also be able to see if there are any patterns of tooth growth that may affect the child’s speech or eating patterns in the future. It is a good idea to come prepared with questions to ask the dentist, especially so that you can establish your child’s dental hygiene routine.
During a child’s very first visit, it is very common for the child to want to be held to calm their nerves during the appointment. This behavior is completely normal, and as they come in for each appointment, they will slowly gain their independence as they gain trust. Once the child turns three years old, they will be able to have more complete dental appointments and should be more comfortable with the dentist.
After the first visit, your child should be visiting the dentist around every six months as long as no new issues show up in between check ups. Important issues to watch out for are teeth grinding, lisps, and strange breathing patterns. At each visit with the dentist, they will most likely begin to add steps slowly to your child’s dental routine to continue improving their health. After the first appointment, the dentist will likely recommend for you to brush your child’s teeth with polishing paste, but by the second appointment they will add fluoridated toothpaste instead.
To schedule an appointment for your child, give us a call at (678) 389-6669!