There are so many things about being a parent that you may think you should automatically know, but the truth is that most parents are figuring it out as they go along. One of the first questions you may have is, when should I take my child to the dentist?
Don’t worry that you don’t have all the answers, because all the information you need is easily accessible. Generally speaking, your child’s first visit to the dentist should occur within six months of the first tooth showing, but no later than age two.
“After all,” you may be thinking, “they hardly have any teeth!” Your child’s first visit to the dentist may not necessarily be about examining their teeth. The first visit can be useful as an opportunity to introduce your child to the dentist and their office, so that they can learn about the importance of taking care of their teeth.
The visit helps your child build trust with the dentist, and helps them overcome dental fears or anxieties that otherwise may develop. The dentist may look inside your child’s mouth to make sure everything’s coming in properly, but the visit should be a breeze.
After the first appointment, it’s highly recommended they visit the dentist once every six months unless the dentist instructs otherwise. The second visit is typically when the dentist first starts counting, brushing and polishing your child’s teeth. This is where they learn the importance of flossing and brushing their teeth thoroughly. By three years of age, your child can begin receiving full dental exams. By five years of age, your child will be old enough to receive X-rays of their teeth as well.
The dentist will show you how to help floss your child’s teeth as well as some techniques to ensure they brush thoroughly. It’s recommended they brush at least two minutes twice a day. There are toothbrushes with built-in timers that your dentist can recommend to help you reach the full two minutes, or you can even learn fun songs or games you can play with your child to help the time fly by!
The best way for you to alleviate any fears or worries your child may have about the dentist is to get them comfortable with going as early as possible. You can even bring them with you when you go in for your own dental appointment to help them get used to the idea of the dentist at a young age.
The appearance of that first tooth is a wonderful landmark in a child’s life, and a trip to the dentist can be a fun and easy celebration of your child’s growth.