Your child should see the dentist way earlier than you think.
Kids need to see the dentist earlier than you may think. According to a recent survey by the University of Michigan, nearly half of parents thought it was appropriate to wait until toddler age (around two or three years old) for their child’s first visit. Some parents even thought age four or older was an OK time for their first dental visit. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Dental Association, and us at Hersch Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics suggest that you should take your little one for their first checkup by age one, or six months after their first tooth erupts – whichever comes first. But why so early?
Prevention, Prevention, Prevention!
Dental prevention is better than disease treatment. To the untrained eye, tooth decay may not be obvious. Parents may not notice decay until there is discoloration and by then, the problem has become significant. That’s why the following are so important:
Dental Examinations – your child’s dental examinations will help diagnose disease before it becomes dangerous to their health. But also, regular exams can help you save money by diagnosing potential problems while they are small and before they become expensive to repair.
Professional Cleanings – your child’s teeth need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Over time, their teeth build up plaque and tarter which are difficult to remove without a proper cleaning. Regular professional cleanings for your child will also include stain removal and a polish for their pearly whites.
Home care education – this is equally as important as the above. By scheduling your child’s first visit when they are young, we will help educate on proper oral home care. Brushing, flossing, and nutrition form the foundation of the education we provide for both child and parent.
How To Calm Those Dental Jitters!
If your child’s first visit is at the recommended time (around one year), they are probably too young to be nervous. If you’ve waited until they are older, they may have some anxiety at the time of the first visit. Here are some ways to help prepare your little one for their first visit:
Lead by example – take your child with you to your next checkup or teeth cleaning
Books & Videos – spend a week or two casually introducing books and videos about the dentist. YouTube is a great resource and has many kids cartoons and songs about going to the dentist. Your local library may also have books and videos about the dentist!
Play – Let them imagine they are the dentist and they are checking your teeth out! Swap roles and act as the dentist. It’s a great idea to have them open wide count their teeth using your fingers so they get used to their teeth getting poked at.
Timing – make sure your child is well-rested and you have plenty of time for your visit to let them explore the fish tank, brush their teeth, and get comfortable in the environment.