There is a lot of information and varying opinions regarding when you should take your child to his first dentist appointment. Some individuals say to take the child as soon as the first tooth appears while others say to wait until the child is a little older and can follow the dentist’s instructions. Here is what many experts suggest.
When Is the Right Age?
According to the American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry, your child should see the dentist for the first time shortly after his or her first tooth appears. This means your child should have seen the dentist at least once before he or she turns one. At this appointment, the dentist can then determine when he would like to see the child again. If there are any concerns, the dentist may want to see the child within six months. If not, they may want to wait until the child is a little older. The purpose of your child’s first checkup is not to give the teeth a thorough cleaning. This appointment is to begin familiarizing your child to the dentist, dental procedures, and even the environment of the dental office. In fact, many thorough cleanings won’t even begin until the child is three years old or even a little older depending on how cooperative they are with the dentist and can have an X-ray.
What Type of Dentist Should I Look for?
When you have young children, you should consider taking them to a paediatric dentist. A paediatric dentist is different than a family dentist because they have received several years of additional training to learn how to properly treat children’s teeth. Additionally, many parents prefer to take their child to a paediatric dentist because they have more experience working with kids who may be scared and nervous. Paediatric dental offices are also designed for kids, helping them feel calmer for the appointment.
Tips to Prepare Kids for the Dentist
Visiting the dentist, particularly during the first several visits, can make children extremely uncomfortable and upset. As a parent, you can prepare your child for this new experience before even setting foot in the dentist office. A few ideas include:
• Talk about the dentist at home, but only speak of her in a positive light.
• Play dentist. Take turns being the dentist and working on one another’s teeth. You can also practice on dolls or other toys if they are available.
• Go early to the dentist. Let your child become comfortable in the dentist office before it is their turn for the appointment.
• Don’t set your expectations too high. There will most likely be tears and lots of screaming. Don’t expect perfection during the very first appointment.
Your children’s oral health is just as important as caring for other parts of their body. By visiting a paediatric dentist at a young age, you are helping your child establish strong health habits that will affect him throughout his entire life.