When Should I Take My Child to the Dentist?

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When Should I Take My Child to the Dentist?

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Q. How old should my child be before I make his first dental appointment?

A. You should take him in by the time he celebrates his first birthday.

First visits are mostly about getting kids used to the dentist’s chair and educating parents about how to care for the baby’s teeth. If your child has transitioned from the bottle to cup and doesn’t snack or drink in the middle of the night, you get a one-year pass, until age 2.

That’s when the standard every-six-month dental visit recommendation kicks into gear. When your child is between ages 4 and 6, expect your dentist to take a first set of X-rays to check for cavities lurking between the teeth.

Prevention is the name of the game between ages 6 and 12, when baby teeth give way to permanent teeth. Your child’s dentist will probably suggest a sealant, a plastic resin that bonds to teeth’s chewing surfaces, between ages 7 and 9.

Cavity-prone molars are the most likely site for treatment. The resin keeps cavity-causing bacteria from getting into the grooves and valleys of teeth.

Also, when your child is around age 7, his dentist will likely suggest an orthodontic evaluation.

Most kids will wait until their early teens for braces, but orthodontics is about modifying jaw growth, so identifying skeletal causes of crooked teeth early helps ensure a beautiful smile later on.

In the end, it’s the basics — brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and getting regular dental checkups — that have the most impact on a kid’s smile.

Importance of primary teeth not recognized

Among children who have never visited the dentist or who have not seen a dentist in the last 12 months, the most frequently mentioned reason (62%) was that “the child is too young” or “doesn’t have enough teeth yet.” Lack of insurance coverage was cited by 12% of the caregivers.

it is very important to keep primary (or “baby”) teeth in place until they are lost naturally. The primary teeth are important for many reasons including:

  • Helping children chew properly to maintain good nutrition.
  • Involvement in speech development.
  • Helping save space for permanent teeth.
  • Promoting a healthy smile that helps children feel good about the way they look.

Many people don’t understand how important their children’s baby teeth are to lifelong oral health. There’s a continuing need for more education to teach practices, such as proper techniques for brushing and flossing, that will ensure lifelong oral health. The first dentist visit is a great opportunity for parents to learn how best to care for their children’s teeth.

Calming dental visit jitters

If you begin taking your children to the dentist around the time the first tooth erupts, then they are probably too young to be nervous. But if you’ve waited until your child is older (for example, 2 years), then he or she may have some anxiety at the time of the first visit.

What’s the best way to prepare your child for the whirring machinery, sharp instruments and a stranger telling him or her to “open wide”?

  • Give your child a sneak preview. Take your child with you for your next checkup to see you having your teeth examined and cleaned.
  • Learn more about it. Lots of books and online resources are geared toward teaching children more about dental health and dentist visits.
  • Play around. Take turns being the dentist and the patient with your child. Examine each other’s teeth with a mirror or use your fingers to count each other’s teeth so that your child will be familiar with the feel of a dentist examination.
  • Timing is everything. Plan plenty of time so that the dental visit isn’t rushed, and make sure your child is well-rested before the visit so that he or she feels relaxed and comfortable

We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today.

Dr.Alolabi
Dr.Alolabi
Dr. Alolabi is a member of the American Association of Orthodontist, and the Texas Association of Orthodontist.

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