Do you know when you should take your child to the dentist for the first time? Is it when they’re 2? Or 4? Once they get their first tooth?
The answer to this question is that they should visit the dentist earlier than you’d probably think.
Everyone knows that babies and young children should visit their pediatrician often, as they need well-checks and vaccinations, but the knowledge of when to take a child to the dentist for the first time doesn’t seem to be that widespread.
Keep reading to learn more about how to answer “What age should a child go to the dentist?” and how important good oral health is to the healthy development of both baby and adult teeth.
What Age Should a Child Go to the Dentist?
When surveyed about when their kids should go to the dentist, research found that only half of parents said their child’s doctor suggested an age to start dental visits. About half of parents also said that they felt that kids didn’t need to visit the dentist until they were 2-3 years old and 6% felt that the first dental visit could wait until the child was 4 years old.
Both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend the first dentist visit be within 6 months of the first tooth erupting.
Early Dental Visits
At these early dental visits, the dentist will look for early signs of decay on the baby teeth and make sure parents know how to properly care for their child’s teeth. No real work or cleaning is done at the first visit. Instead, it’s an opportunity for your child to experience the dental office in a low-stress visit.
The hygienist will help make your child comfortable, show them the various tools if they’re old enough to understand, and maybe brush their teeth. Then, the dentist will take a quick look once the child is comfortable. The key thing is to make your child feel at ease and minimize their fear.
The dentist is not only looking for signs of decay, but also is checking the gums, jaw, and bite to make sure there aren’t problems that may affect teeth or speech. They’ll also probably give you tips about good dental hygiene in kids, proper cups to use, and when to come back for the next visit.
Best Practices for Kids’ Oral Health
Most dentists will recommend that you bring your child back in 6 months. Depending on their age, the dentist will often do a little more at each visit, moving from just looking in their mouth, to counting their teeth, to polishing them, to a full cleaning.
In addition to regular dental visits, you should be limiting sugary drinks such as juice, brushing twice a day, and flossing your children’s teeth.
Once they are old enough to understand that they should spit the toothpaste and not swallow it, you can move from training toothpaste to kid’s toothpaste with fluoride. Invest in kid’s flossers, which make flossing in little mouths much easier.
Keep Those Pearly Whites Beautiful
If you haven’t taken your child for their first dental appointment yet, it’s never too late. Now that you know the answer to at “What age should a child go to the dentist?”, you can plan accordingly.
If you are past their first or second birthday, get them in as soon as possible. Good oral health in children who have baby teeth often translates to good oral health in children and teens with adult teeth.
Contact us today for an appointment for your little one!