Baby teeth begin to come in around halfway through the first year of life and generally have finished erupting by three years of age. When is the best time to begin bringing your child to the dentist? We generally recommend by two and a half to three years of age and to continue with six month checkups. However, the earlier the better! We encourage parents to bring their child in if any questions or concerns arise before this time or between visits.
A huge part of a child’s first few dental visits is to simply get them acquainted with the sights, smells, sounds, and people at the dental office. The first appointment’s agenda will be dictated by how the child handles the appointment. We want to try to make it as positive of an experience as possible and form a solid foundation which future appointments can build on. So if the first visit only entails a chair ride and toothbrush, that is still a success in our eyes. The hope is that at each appointment, the patient will become more comfortable and allow more to be accomplished. Bringing a younger child to watch an older sibling can sometimes help in preparation for their first visit.
A large portion of this first appointment is to answer any questions or alleviate any concerns the parent may have. Time may be spent educating both the parent and the child on oral hygiene and evaluating oral habits. Baby tooth decay is a prominent problem in the US so the earlier it can be screened, the better chance of catching things before they become a problem. The “Tell-Show-Do” method is used to show children the instruments and how they will be used including the Barbie mirror, the tooth counter (explorer), the vacuum (suction), and the tooth sweeper (prophy polisher). Other possible steps completed include polishing the teeth and practicing brushing. A fluoride varnish may be placed which is invaluable in helping prevent cavities. X-rays are usually put off until around four to five years of age unless there is a concern. And of course, the best part of the visit – visiting the prize drawer!
So what is the exact answer as to when to bring your child to their first dental visit? Every child will be different, but the earlier the better in keeping those pearly baby whites healthy.