As parents, we want to make sure we set our kids up with the best foundation possible for their future lives. That’s a big task with lots of variables, but in this sense, their well-being should be at the forefront. Their health should be the priority, of which oral health is big component. When it comes to taking care of our children’s teeth, we need to start thinking about it early, even before their first teeth come in. That’s why many parents wonder at what age they should start taking their kids to visit the dentist.
Unfortunately, most of us parents likely aren’t dentists, which means that we aren’t experts in children’s dental care. Sure, we know something about teething, brushing, flossing, and making sure we take our loved ones to the dentist – but there’s still lots we have questions about.
One such question, and it’s one lots of parents are asking, is what the best age is to book my child’s first dental visit.
What is the right age to take my child to the dentist for the first time?
The right age will vary depending on your child’s development, but the general rule is to wait until after their first tooth erupts. That’s usually around one year old, so within a six-month window of that is ideal.
It might seem too soon but it’s important to get a dental checkup early to ensure things are progressing properly.
What should you expect?
Sometimes parents feel uneasy about the idea of taking their one-year-old to the dentist but there’s nothing worry about. When a child at that age visits the dentist, their appointment is much different to that of an older child. They won’t be getting any dental treatment; the first appointment is more about a quick check and establishing a record of dental care.
Why is it important to take your small child to the dentist early?
As mentioned, it’s important to start a dental health history early. It’s also a good way to acclimate your child to things like seeing the dentist, so they can build up a level of trust which will pay dividends later on. Very young children are more curious than anything and the appointment will likely be a good experience for everyone. The better your two- or three-year-old is in the dentist’s chair the easier it will be to keep on top of their oral health.
It’s also a good because it gets you as a parent involved early. You can build a relationship with your paediatric dentist that will last until your child grows up. There may be decisions that need to be made later on, where some background knowledge and an open line of communication can prove beneficial.
But they’re just baby teeth
Sure, your child’s first set of teeth are temporary, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. On the contrary, it’s necessary for your dentist to monitor your child’s baby teeth because they play a large role in chewing and ingesting food properly. Baby teeth can also influence your child’s speech development and can provide clues to the development of permanent teeth.
How to get your child ready for their first appointment
Give your child a sneak peek
Preparing your child for their first visit is very much a mental game. We recommend bringing them along to one of your own checkup appointments, so they get a feel for the idea. Make sure you’re in good spirits and positive, because your mood will rub off on your child. Remember, you want good associations with the dentist, not bad vibes. It’s probably not a good idea to bring your kid along to a something like a root canal appointment, or a teeth whitening, because these appointments take more time and are a bit more involved than a dental cleaning.
Prep their mind
There are all sorts of tools available for parents trying to get their kids ready to visit the dentist. Things like children’s books, YouTube videos and parent tutorials can provide meaningful ways to foster a good feeling towards the dentist where your child is concerned. Spend some time on the topic in the weeks leading up to your visit and you’ll be rewarded with a smooth (even fun) first appointment.
Make sure your child is ready
You’ve taken care to do some mental prep work leading up to the appointment, and now it’s time to make sure your child is physically ready. This started with booking an appointment time that’s convenient, which usually means something in the morning when your child is fresh. Afternoon appointments around nap time can mean cranky kids and a frustrating experience.
Also try to make sure your child is well rested and fed before going to the dentist. Last thing you need is a temper tantrum because of hunger or being tired. It might be difficult to get everything lined up perfectly but will be beneficial if you can manage it.
Bring some distractions
Before you head out the door for your appointment, don’t forget to pack a toy, a book, or something you can use to keep your child distracted in the waiting room. Items like a comfort blanket are also good to bring along so you can help your child feel safe and secure during the experience.
When it comes time to take your child for their own visit, preparation will go a long way to making sure the appointment isn’t a fiasco. Book the right appointment time, spend the time teaching your child about the dentist, bring some toys, a comfort blanket, and have them get lots of sleep the night before. Also, do whatever you need to keep your spirits high and positive.
It’s important to take your small child to a childrens dentist early so they’ll have a solid foundation for oral health as they get older. It might seem like a scary prospect but it’s really not a big deal. It’s part of good parenting and your child will thank you for it.