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When to take your child to the dentist

If you have a small child you may have wondered when they need to start coming to the dentist. A lot of parents are confused on when dental appointments become necessary and don’t know if they need to come in as soon as their first tooth breaks the surface or if they are better off waiting until more teeth have come in. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend bring your child to the dentist with in 6 months of their first tooth erupting and no later than 2 years old.

Many parents wonder why it is important to bring their child to the dentist when they only have a few teeth. First dentist appointments are generally more of an informational appointment rather than an exam. The dentist will go over information about your child’s teeth, caring for them and take a peek at the teeth if the child is willing. They check mostly that the teeth are coming in properly and that there is no bottle rot. This appointment is important for your child because it helps they to become comfortable with the dentist.

After your child’s first appointment it is recommended you continue to visit the dentist every 6 months. If you have a concern you may need to visit the dentist before the 6 month mark, some concerns include mouth breathing, grinding or a lisp. At the second visit the dentist will likely work more with your child’s teeth. They will count the teeth, clean them and possible do a fluoride treatment. The easing into dental cleanings and exams is a helpful technique for easing dental anxiety and building trust. Children respond well to this approach and the building of trust helps to keep them from being fearful of the dentist.

Most children are ready for a full dental exam by three years old. A full dental exam will include a full cleaning with brushing, polishing and flossing and may include a fluoride treatment. The dentist will also talk to you and your child about proper brushing technique and timing. A built in timer toothbrush is ideal for ensuring the teeth are brushed for long enough at each brushing. At the age of 5 the child will be ready to have xrays done with their dental cleanings.

Bringing your child into the dentist early is just one of the ways you can ensure their dental health is maintained. Many dentists will allow you to bring small children in while you are having a dental exam and do a quick check of their teeth as well. Having your children watch your teeth be cleaned and examined will help them be more comfortable having their teeth examined. It is never too soon to instill proper oral care.

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