Some may wonder when’s the best time to take their child to the dentist for the first check-up. Time and again, we’ve stressed the importance of your child’s first dental visit once their primary teeth emerge. Despite this, most American children have their first appointment at the age of two, far beyond the recommended age.
Caregivers often put the child’s age and the number of teeth as a reason behind this. This information highlights the little we know about why we should keep our children’s primary teeth healthy. Far from being placeholders, these teeth also serve crucial functions in your child’s development. These functions include speech development and proper eating habits.
The first dental check-up then sets up not only your child’s oral health foundation but habits that will set them up for life. So what can you expect from that first appointment? And how can you ensure it makes a positive impact on your child?
The first appointment protects your child’s teeth from future problems
At six months of age, your child’s first dental examination is relatively simple. The pediatric dentist (or in some instances, the family dentist) will look at your baby’s teeth and gums for any red flags. If they spot any plaque build-up, they will gently clean the child’s teeth.
As your child grows older, they might develop habits which may be detrimental to their oral health, such as thumb-sucking. In this case, the pediatric dentist may also check for these. They could then amend them as soon as possible before these habits can cause long-term damage.
Once your child develops all 20 milk teeth, your dentist may also suggest other cavity-prevention measures. For instance, they may prescribe your child a fluoride treatment, which can help supplement the fluoride they get from their food and toothpaste. The pediatric dentist may also apply a dental sealant to your child’s back teeth, which protects against tooth decay.
The earlier your children start, the more likely they’ll head to their appointments
Another benefit of taking your kids early to the dentist is that it becomes easier for them to keep their appointments. Children are generally anxious about heading to unfamiliar places, and the dental office is one. It’s no surprise that dental anxiety affects 6-19% of children aged 4-19 years. And while their pediatric dentist could aid in alleviating this fear, early and constant visits could further demystify it.
If they get the first-visit-flutter, there are things you can do to help ease their nervousness. For one, taking your kids to your dental appointments can make the procedure feel more familiar to them. If they see that you are doing fine, chances are they’ll feel the same way too.
You can also familiarize the dentist’s office by showing them media related to it, such as cartoons and books. To drive the point home, you can also incorporate it into playtime and take turns playing dentist or patient.
More importantly, if they have any concerns or questions about the dental visit, be sure to address them as much as possible. Since children are naturally curious, you might be able to use it to your advantage—and theirs.