Parents are often confused about when their child is old enough to visit the dentist. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child’s first visit should be when their first tooth erupts – no later than two years old. From there on, the dentist will continue to recommend the frequency of the visits which the parents should follow.
Which Dentist Should I Go to?
A family dentist can definitely help give you a brief overview of how to care for your child’s teeth and if there are any pressing issues to deal with. However, it is best to take your child to a pediatric dentist.
These are dentists who have done two to three years specialty training in dealing with children following dental school and are best qualified to help your child get comfortable with the dentist’s office. Most pediatric dentist offices have colorful décor and toys which puts kids at ease.
What is the Dentist Going to do During the Visit?
The first visit to the dentist is more about establishing a relationship between your child and the dentist than getting any actual work done.
Familiarize your child with the staff and the office in a way that builds trust and makes your child less scared of returning. Too often, if kids develop a negative association with a place such as a doctor’s office, they will be more difficult to calm down later on.
The dentist will introduce themselves to your child and help your child get comfortable with the different tools in a non threatening way, in order to take away any fear that the child might have. This may be through letting the child explore the office and chair on their own a little before beginning the session, or by giving the tools gentle names such as ‘tooth sweeper’ to build positive associations.
Finally, your dentist will conduct a quick examination of your child’s mouth, looking for any preliminary decay, odd bites, or any issues in the gum or jaw. This will serve to give you an indication if there is anything that can affect their teeth or speech patterns. They will then guide you on how you can best care for your child’s teeth to prevent any major problems from developing.
If your child is experiencing any discomfort that you believe might be related to dental problems, even before their first tooth has erupted, you should consider seeing a dentist just to be on the safe side. Make sure that you ask your dentist any questions that you have – they’re there to help and they’ll be glad to see you’re taking an active interest.