So you’ve recently had a child, and you’ve probably been so involved in making sure that every other stage of their development is on track that their dental health may have fallen through the cracks. Perhaps you’re just unsure about when to begin introducing them to the dentist. It’s easy to do, so don’t feel too bad. Hopefully, this article we will be able to clear up any confusion about when your child should start seeing the dentist so you can get them on the right track from here on out!
At What Age Should Your Child First Visit the Dentist?
Ok, so when exactly should your child should go in for their first dental visit? According to the head of pediatric dentistry at UCLA, ideally they should go in for their first check up at as young as one. Now I know that may sound a bit early, and it’s not time for regular 6 month check ups yet, but starting them this young can do a few very positive things for them:
- It gets them comfortable with the dentist from the very beginning, and greatly reduces their chances of developing dental anxieties later on in life
- It allows the dentist to become familiar with your child’s teeth from the start, which will help them to guide your children to proper oral health as they grow
- This allows the parents to learn what to expect in the coming 6-12 months with your child’s teeth, and how to best care for them in this initial development stage
When Should Your Child Start Their Regular 6 Month Visits to the Dentist?
Most dentists would recommend that your child start their regular 6 month dental visits at around the age of 2. After this, some of the next benchmarks would be:
- Ages 4-6: expect your child’s first set of dental x-rays to start checking for cavities
- Ages 6-12: this is an important time in the development of your child’s teeth and prevention is the name of the game as your child’s baby teeth give way to permanent teeth
- Ages 7-9: your dentist may suggest a sealant to help prevent cavities on your child’s teeth, especially to the cavity prone back molar area
- Ages 7-9: your dentist will probably recommend your child’s first look into orthodontics (even though braces may wait till the early teen years), this will help insure that their jaw growth is coming along well and help to identify any early skeletal causes of crooked teeth, helping to ensure a beautiful smile later on in life
Preparing for Your Child’s First Dental Visit
So we’ve talked all about when to take your child to their first dental visit, as well as the other important steps along the way, now let’s discuss some things you can do to help ensure that first visit goes as smoothly as possible. Here’s a list of some tips for you parents:
- Be Brief – Sometimes parents tend to try to prepare their child so much for their first dental visit that what was once not a big deal in their mind, all of the sudden becomes this huge event because parents over talked about this visit to their child in hopes of preparing them better. Just remember, that a child doesn’t know what they don’t know, so less is usually more in this area. Simply let them know that there is a visit and try to make it a fun thing for them to look forward to in your tone and actions
- Be Positive – Many times parents have had negative experiences with the dentist and they unintentionally and unconsciously put fear or negative connotations about the dentist in their children’s minds by their tone or letting something slip out. So simply be positive and come across like this visit is no big deal at all.
- Be a Comforting Presence, but not a Nuisance – It’s good to be there for your child, even beside them during their first dental visit. But focus on being there as a comfort for your child, and not a nuisance that interjects frequently with the dentist while they are trying to do what they are professionally trained to do. This will not only distract your dentist, but it will also hinder your child from bonding with their dentist and making their next visit to the dentist a fun thing for them