The American Association of Pediatric Dentists recommend parents consider their child’s first dentist appointment as early as 6 months when their first tooth pops up. According to the survey, 21% of kids between the ages of 2 and 5 have tooth cavities which is a common but preventable childhood disease. Many times, kids visit their dentist at 3 or 4 years of age with tooth decay, pain, and cavities which could have been possibly prevented with an early checkup. If you are a first-time mom, looking for recommendations on dental visits, it is wise to plan a visit before your son/daughter’s first birthday. Though it sounds too early, it ensures your child has proper growth and does not show signs of tooth or gum issues.
Most Common Dental Issues for Kids?
- Baby bottle tooth decay
- Tooth growth issues
- Gum problems
- Mouth cleaning
- Infant feeding issues
- Pacifier habits
- Finger-sucking habits
What Kind of Behavior You May Expect on Your Kid’s First Dental Visit?
It is very common for both kids and parents to have anxiety but knowing what to expect may calm you down.
|6-24 Months||Kids may refuse to open their mouths for a dental exam.||They get upset when taken away from their parents.|
|2-3 Years||Your toddler might often say ‘no’ to everything.||They may be able to cope after some conversation and pretend play.|
|3 Years||They are not mature enough to handle dental procedures.||They might panic, shout, yell, and may even try to run away from the room.|
|4 -5 Years||Kids are mature at this age and they should be able to sit through dental exams and treatment procedures.||They can talk to the dentist and stay calm with little or absolutely no support from their parents.|
Tips for Kids’ First Dentist Appointment
You need to schedule appointments when your kid is active and fresh. Do not disturb their sleep and feeding sessions. If your kid is over 2 years, prepare them for the visit by giving them a general idea of what to expect at a dentist’s office. Pretend play toys help a lot. You must also explain the importance of dental visits and try to build excitement and understanding.
How Parents Should Prepare for Their Child’s First Dentist Appointment?
- Make a list of questions and concerns to discuss with the dentist.
- Do not relate your dental anxieties and fear to your child.
- Try to give moral support to your kid during the dental exam.
- Stay calm and comfort your kid.
- Talk to the dentist and ask as many questions as possible.
- Inform your child’s complete health history.
- Learn dental hygiene tricks and tips from the dentist.
What to Expect on the First Visit?
The first visit is always an education session. A pediatric dentist will teach you how to properly take care of teeth, gums, and overall oral health. He/she will discuss eating habits and provide dietary counseling. Don’t forget to ask your dentist for the list of food items your kid shouldn’t eat. The first visit will last for about 15-40 minutes depending on how well your child cooperates with the dentist. Be prepared for;
- A full exam of teeth, jaws, bite.
- Checks growth and development.
- Gentle cleaning – polishing, removing plaque, tartar, and stains.
- Education on proper home cleaning, brushing, and flossing.
- Advise you on the need for fluoride.
- Dental X-rays (unless absolutely necessary).
Early Signs of Tooth Decay in Children
If your kid develops tooth decay at an early age, the dentist will be able to reverse the decay before it develops into a cavity. The sooner you book your child’s first dentist appointment, the better the chances of being able to reverse decay. You may also have to pay attention to the cavity because it can be aggressive. If left untreated, it can destroy the enamel and lead to serious gum infections. Parents often mistake tooth decay pain for teething or other types of pain. So, do not assume!
Should You Consult a Family Dentist or a Pediatric Dentist?
A family dentist is a general dentist who can deal with adults whereas a pediatric dentist specializes in kids. You may need an appointment with a pediatric dentist who has knowledge and training in advanced pediatric surgical procedures, child behavior, and psychology management, pediatric sedation, and pharmacology. General dentists may not have a lot of hands-on experience in infant oral exams and they are often not comfortable working with younger children. Go to a pediatric dentist who has special training to treat, diagnose, and address oral health issues in infants.
How Often Should Your Child Visit the Dentist?
Just like any adult, kids should see the dentist every 6 months. In case of issues, the dentist may schedule visits every 3 months. Frequent visits will ensure your kid follows good dental practices.
Dental Hygiene Practices to Follow at Home
- Avoid bottled milk, juice, or sweetened liquid at bedtime.
- Clean the baby’s gums regularly.
- Start brushing baby’s teeth with soft bristles. You may use a very small amount of baby toothpaste.
- Start using fluoride toothpaste when your kid is old enough to spit out the toothpaste after brushing.
- Limit your baby’s bottle time to avoid baby bottle tooth decay.
- Assist kids to brush their teeth until 7 to 8 years.
- Avoid food that increases tooth decay.
If you haven’t booked your child’s first dentist appointment, book one now! Never skip dental visits because it is important for you to take care of your kid’s oral health at an early age.