When should your child first see a dentist? You can take your child at a younger age, but experts recommend taking him or her within 6 months of the first tooth coming in (erupting), or by about 12 months at the latest.
At this time, the dentist can give you information on:
If possible, schedule morning appointments so young children are alert and fresh.
Prepare a preschooler or older child for the visit by giving him or her a general idea of what to expect. Explain why it is important to go to the dentist. Build excitement and understanding.
Discuss your questions and concerns with the dentist. Remember that your feeling toward dental visits can be quite different from your child’s. Be honest with your view of the dentist. If you have dental anxieties, be careful not to relate those fears or dislikes to your child. Parents need to give moral support by staying calm while in the dental exam room. Children can pick up parents’ anxieties and become anxious themselves.
At the first visit, give the dentist your child’s complete health history. For a restoration visit, such as getting a cavity filled, tell the dentist if your child tends to be stubborn, defiant, anxious, or fearful in other situations.
Watch how your child reacts. Many parents can guess how their child will respond and should tell the dentist. Certain behaviors may be linked to your child’s age:
Your child’s first dental visit is to help your child feel comfortable with the dentist. The first dental visit is recommended by 12 months of age, or within 6 months of the first tooth coming in. The first visit often lasts 30 to 45 minutes. Depending on your child’s age, the visit may include a full exam of the teeth, jaws, bite, gums, and oral tissues to check growth and development. If needed, your child may also have a gentle cleaning. This includes polishing teeth and removing any plaque, tartar, and stains. The dentist may show you and your child proper home cleaning such as flossing, and advise you on the need for fluoride. Baby teeth fall out, so X-rays aren’t often done. But your child’s dentist may recommend X-rays to diagnose decay, depending on your child’s age. X-rays are also used to see if the root of a jammed baby tooth may be affecting an adult tooth. In general, it is best that young children not have dental X-rays unless needed.
Just like adults, children should see the dentist every 6 months. Some dentists may schedule visits more often, such as every 3 months. This can build comfort and confidence in the child. More frequent visits can also help keep an eye on a development problem.
Here are some tips to protect your children’s teeth:
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