In a 2020 survey of adults with children below the age of 5, it was noted that more than half of the respondents did not know when to schedule a child’s first dental checkup. Moreover, 1 in 6 parents is of the view that dental visits should start at the age of four. This is a time period when cavities and other problems have already started to appear. The parents who were counseled by pediatric health professionals believed that dental visits should start after a child turns one.
Dental care from the beginning is a must if you want to keep your baby’s gleaming teeth and healthy gums. A dentist’s job is to enhance an individual’s oral health. Therefore, it is important to know when to schedule your baby’s first dental appointment.
When to Schedule the First Dental Checkup
Mostly, babies start to teeth at around 6 months. According to the American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child must see a dentist within six months after his first teeth appear.
Although you might think it’s early, it is good to schedule the first checkup when your baby is one year old or six months after his first tooth starts sprouting. If you see any visible problem or even a cavity, do bring it up at the doctor’s visit. Family history or sleeping with a bottle in the mouth can lead to early tooth decay in your baby. Baby teeth need to be healthy just as permanent teeth as they stay until the kids reach the age of 10 to 12 years.
What to Expect at the First Dentist Visit
Mostly, the first dental visits are short and straightforward. The dentist will greet your baby and make him comfortable before beginning his exam. He will probably count the teeth and examine the gums. He’ll see if the growth is normal or slow. Pediatric dentists mostly expect a parent to stay in the room while they examine your child or if he’s under the age of 1.
Dentists usually ask the parents to hold the child if he can’t sit on his own while they perform the examination. The first visit will establish a friendly relationship between the child and the dentist as they meet in a non-threatening environment. The dentist inspects the teeth for signs of tooth decay. If no teeth have appeared, the gums are inspected to see the potential teeth eruption. Any gum or jaw-related problems can also be identified.
The first visit will not involve any cleaning procedure as most dentists hold off till they become familiar with the children. Then only do they start with the more intrusive tools.
Some additional information that a dentist might ask will include family dental health, any teething issues of your little one. He will also want to know about the general oral hygiene, pacifier use, and sleeping and feeding schedules of your child. He will also evaluate your child’s bite and identify the estimated time of your next appointment.
You can keep a prize in your bag to give to your little one if the dentist’s office doesn’t offer one.
In case of any accidents:
If you see a crack in a tooth before the visit or if the tooth is broken, schedule an appointment right away. You should clean the mouth with cold water if there is bleeding and put a cold compress in the injured area.
6 Things to Know about Dental Care in Children
- Your pediatrician should counsel about dental health. A pediatrician should address the basic oral hygiene issues of a child. Sometimes, primary care physicians treat children’s teeth with a protective fluoride varnish at around 9 months. They can also guide you regarding referral to a good dentist.
- Basic oral assessment can’t substitute dental exams. Family doctors do provide a basic oral assessment but their abilities are limited. A dentist can identify early signs of tooth decay and control the problems from progressing.
- Early dental visits can prevent problems. Discoloration and tooth decay risks begin as the first tooth sprouts. A dentist can keep a close watch on a child’s dental disease and suggest the proper course of action accordingly.
- Exposure to dentists builds comfort. It is necessary to have exposure to a dentist as a regular healthcare professional as it allows for a good discussion about oral habits.
- Home dental care is just as important. Brushing habits should start as soon as the first tooth appears. A child should not have a sugar-rich diet or drink from a bottle while sleeping as it allows cavities to thrive.
- Get a child’s dental insurance ASAP. Parents should enroll their children in a dental plan before they turn one.
Benefits of Early Dental Visits
Children usually experience some kind of anxiety when going to a doctor. Getting your child accustomed to a dental care visit may eliminate any fears that most adults have regarding a dental exam.
The first few dental visits are quite straightforward and don’t involve much prodding and poking. So, children get familiar with the doctor and the staff. You can make these visits interesting so that children get excited for them.
Early dental visits are quite helpful in making parents more aware. They can offer information to start a diet that prevents tooth decay or how to properly clean the teeth.
Choosing a Dentist for Your Child
Many people when choosing a dentist for their child prefer their own. This is a good choice if your dentist has experience with young children (and you can double-check that information on the dentist office website). Although, it is recommended that you go to a pediatric dentist someone with special training in infant dental care. They will be better trained at handling squirming or moving children. They will know about the best techniques to distract your child while they perform the examination.