Here at Bite Dental we often get asked when kids should visit the dentist for the first time.
The short answer is around their 1st birthday. This age will help your child to get familiar with the dental environment and get used to new sights, sounds and smells. Don't wait until an emergency comes up, it is best to identify any early decay and developmental abnormalities as early as possible. Early dental visits will also enable you to discuss oral hygiene and dietary advice with dental staff that will help to prevent oral diseases in the future.
In most cases there will be little or no treatment necessary at that age which helps to establish a good relationship between your child and a dental practitioner. Here are few tips that will help you to prepare your child for their first dental visit:
- Play dentist at home and pretend to count their teeth.
- If they are old enough, read them a book about going to the dentist or show them a video.
- Schedule their appointment early in the day so they are well rested.
- Bring your child's favourite blanket or toy along.
Avoid expressing any fear that you may have about going to a dentist or use upsetting words such as 'needle' or 'drill'.
Don't use the dental visit as a punishment (eg not brushing their teeth) or bribe them with a reward. Instead think of it as a normal routine rather than a special event.
Arrive earlier to your dental appointment so you have time to fill in any required paperwork. This will also help your child to get familiar with the new environment. Very young kids generally do better sitting on their parents lap in a dental chair, while older kids may want to go for a 'ride' in the dental chair by themselves. Finally kids may not always cooperate during their first appointment, but it is important to introduce them to the dental environment early to develop the routine of regular dental visits.
But they are only baby teeth that are going to fall out…
Baby teeth are just as important as adult teeth. You will see them appear in your baby's mouth between the ages of 6 to 9 months and they should have all of them erupt by the age of 3 years, but like any other developmental milestone they may appear sooner or later.
Baby teeth help your child to chew, smile and speak as well as retain space for the adult teeth that are developing underneath. Furthermore, the decayed baby teeth can act as a reservoir of bacteria that can spread onto permanent teeth. Therefore it is vital to keep those baby teeth in their best shape by practicing good oral hygiene, maintaining a healthy diet and working on those good habits as a family. As a general guide start cleaning your baby's teeth twice a day with a soft baby toothbrush, then add low-fluoride toothpaste after the age of 18 months. Don't forget about flossing, particularly when baby molars start to appear. Simon particularly likes using flossettes (floss with a plastic holder) on his kids' teeth.
At Bite Dental we would love to meet the youngest members of your family, check their oral health and answer any questions you have about their developing teeth.