Your Child’s First Dental Visit

Oral hygiene is one of the most important areas in which you can help your child develop good habits. Part of good oral hygiene, of course, is regular dental visits. Regular visits to the dentist are important for checkups on your child’s teeth, as well as for cleanings.

The start of a regular regimen

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics you should schedule your child’s first dental visit 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.

In general, it is recommended that your child start her regular regimen of visiting the dentist for cleaning and checkups at around the age of 2.

Making it easier for your child

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!”

When to be concerned

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.

Home cleaning

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.