When Should My Toddler First Visit A Dentist?

One of the most important things that you can do for your toddler is to teach her good oral hygiene habits. As a part of good oral hygiene, you should get into the habit of having yoru child visit a dentist twice a year for routine cleanings and for checkups.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you take your child to visit the dentist for the first time at around the age of 12 months. At this stage, the dentist will be able to diagnose problems or potential problems that your pediatrician may not have been able to notice. Most dentists recommend that you begin a regular regimen of visits and cleanings at the age of 2 years.

Going to the dentist can be scary for your toddler. Try to make it a positive experience. Talk with your child about how big he is, now that he is old enough to go to the dentist. Have a positive attitude about it. If the dentist gives out toys or stickers after the visit, focus on that for your toddler. Instead of saying “today, we’re going to go get your teeth cleaned,” you can say, “Today, we go to see Dr. Smith, and he’s got a surprise toy for you!”

If your baby’s first teeth haven’t erupted by about the age of 16 months, or if you observe the signs of tooth decay, you might want to take your toddler to visit the dentist earlier. If she has problems with bad breath and you have ruled out other causes, this may be a good reason to visit the dentist as well. Consider using a pediatric dentist if there is one where you live.

At a minimum, you should also brush your toddler’s teeth twice a day. Generally, you would brush your toddler’s teeth in the morning and before bedtime. Because most children don’t develop the muscular control and skill required for good brushing until sometime between the age of 5 and 7, you should physically help him each and every time. In addition to the morning and bedtime brushing, you might consider letting your toddler brush his own teeth after each meal.

If your toddler struggles with teeth brushing at first, don’t be alarmed. This is common. If she really fights you about it, you can sit her down with her head in your lap and your legs wrapped around hers. Most of the time, she will give up the struggle before too long at all.


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