You care about your kids and want them to have the very best healthcare from head to toe.
So, when those little milk teeth start to emerge, you’ll be thinking beyond simply achieving a milestone. Likely, you’ll be wondering, ‘When should a child go to the dentist?’
It’s never too early to find out!
Our guide is going to help you to know not only when your child should make their first trip to the dentists, but also how you can help them keep their pearly whites, well, pearly white.
When Do You Take a Baby to the Dentist?
Most babies develop their first tooth at around 6 months and have usually developed a full set of teeth by around 20 to 30 months.
It could be easy to overlook this initial period when your baby has only a few teeth in evidence and wait until a full set has emerged. But as we know, once teeth come into contact with food and drink, even mother’s milk, there’s the possibility of decay developing.
To ensure that this is not the case for your baby, it’s good to start taking them to the dentist around 6 months after the emergence of their first tooth. For some babies, that could mean as early as their first birthday.
In fact, some dentists recommend making an appointment around the first birthday whether the first tooth came after 6 months or even later.
Why Start Early?
Even though all parents want the best for their babies, to many taking a small baby to the dentist seems, well, a little odd.
But there are many sound reasons for doing so.
One reason is that any signs of decay can be spotted early. It’s a good idea to head to a specialized dentist at this point.
Dental practices that specialize in pediatric dentistry are knowledgeable and experienced. They know what to look for when examining children’s teeth, from babies upwards.
Dentists are also able to apply a fluoride treatment to their new teeth.
These treatments, also known as fluoride varnishes, form a protective layer over children’s teeth that can help to prevent or slow down decay. A valuable extra form of protection that can set them up to have strong teeth.
Learn Good Oral Hygiene
At age 1, your baby’s takeaways from their trip to the dentist are going to be limited.
But the dentist will have invaluable advice and training for you. They’ll talk you through how to care for your little one’s teeth – what to use and how to train them to take good care of their teeth themselves.
Get Over the Nerves
Many people, children and adults alike, suffer from anxiety about going to the dentist.
This often stems from traumatic childhood experiences or anxiety that is passed on unconsciously by others.
But a study found that those who go to the dentist regularly have lower rates of dental anxiety. This is another important reason why it is good to take your child to the dentist regularly from a young age.
If you delay, it’s likely that their first experience will be having fillings for the cavities that have developed over time. For kids, this often means sedation – a traumatic experience for anybody!
You can save them all this stress and hassle! Set them up for a lifetime of good habits by taking them early and normalizing going to the dentist.
Caring for Baby Teeth
As we’ve seen, when contemplating the question, when should a child go to the dentist for the first time, the answer is the sooner the better!
And just because these teeth will one day fall out does not mean that they don’t deserve lots of care and attention.
In the meantime, how can you care for your baby’s teeth to prevent problems later?
Clearly, it’s not a time for high-powered Oral-B’s, alcohol mouthwash and water picks. A more subtle approach is needed, but one that’s still effective.
Cleaning Baby’s Teeth
Initially, keeping your baby’s teeth clean is all about brushing.
Pick up a specialist baby’s toothbrush and begin by gently brushing their tooth/teeth twice a day. Work your way around the teeth, covering all angles. At this age, toothpaste is not necessary.
They might wriggle and squirm at first, but with persistence, they’ll soon accept it as part of their daily ritual.
Cleaning Toddlers’ Teeth
As your child grows up, so does their exposure to a range of foods.
This means it crucial that good teeth brushing routines are part of daily life, morning and evening. From around 2 years of age, you can move on to using a small amount of children’s toothpaste to do the job.
As they become more independent, they’ll want to take over this particular role. But make sure you supervise to check that they’ve covered all bases, otherwise decay is sure to follow.
As your child grows up, you’ll have instilled in them good oral hygiene habits. Along with regular visits to the dentist, these should help to keep decay and caries at bay.
Before long, orthodontics will be on your mind! These days there are great options for braces, such as Invisalign for teens. If your child is approaching this stage, speak to your orthodontist about available options.
The Bottom Line: When Should a Child Go to the Dentist?
When should a child go to the dentist? Simply put, around their first birthday, and no later.
This may seem young, but you can be happy knowing that you’re setting them up for a lifetime of good oral health. Not to mention helping them to have a healthy view of going to the dentist without needless anxiety.
At Park Place Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, we have an experienced team who know how to put your child at ease and give them great quality care.
Click here to contact us today and set up an appointment.