When Should My Child Start Seeing a Pediatric Dentist?
One of the most frequent questions we get as pediatric dental professionals is “when should my child’s first dental visit be?”. Our answer often takes people by surprise. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, your child should see a pediatric dentist when their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday. Here are 5 reasons why:
1. Relationship Building
For many people, both young and old, the idea of going to the dentist can bring on anxiety and fear. This is a major obstacle for us in dental industry and something we try to avoid from an early age. One of the reasons we suggest to parents that they bring their child for their first dental visit by the age of one is so that we can form a trusting friendship with them that lasts years. If we can introduce ourselves, our office and the tools we use for dental cleanings and exams then in almost all cases children love to come to the dentist- sometime they even cry because they don’t want to leave us!
2. Let’s Learn the Lingo
Another reason we like to see your child by the age of one is so that they can become accustomed to the language that we use in the pediatric dentistry world. We use this language as a means of creating a non-threatening environment for them while they are getting a dental exam, a cleaning or other dental treatments. Our dental hygienists will often refer to a probe as the tooth counter to put a child at ease or a piece of gauze as a tooth pillow. If your child has a cavity that needs to be filled we will say “here’s some numbing juice”, or “this is sleepy water” if they require anesthesia. Visiting our offices at an early age on a consistent basis will really allow your child to not be fearful because they will be in a relaxed state.
3. Dental Exams
It is extremely important to get your children used to the idea of having regular dental exams. A lot of times we hear “why does my child need to have a dental exam? She only has 3 teeth.” Your child needs to have regular dental exams once their first tooth has erupted because it allows for the dentist to look for signs of decay or bottle caries (often seen in very young children), check the gums, jaw and bite. It also allows us to check for frenum issues or other problems that could affect teeth and speech. If any of these issues are detected it is way easier to correct or reverse the problem at an early age.
4. Primary Teeth Are Very Important!
A common misconception is that primary teeth or baby teeth as we call them are not as important to treat because they just fall out. While it is true that they just fall out the rest of that statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Primary teeth are very important and essential is the development of speech, aid in chewing, save space for adult teeth to come in and give children the confidence to give those glowing smiles we all love. It is important to see the dentist at the age of one to ensure the health and development of the primary teeth are on track.
5. Prevention is Key!
If there is one thing we could stress as a pediatric dental office it is that prevention is key to a healthy mouth. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, twenty-five percent of our nation’s children have 80 percent of the cavities. This is a startling statistic to us because in most cases, cavities are so preventable. Bringing in your child or children for regular dental check ups from the age of one on allows us to teach them about proper oral hygiene, smart food choices and why it is so important to take such good care of your teeth!