As a parent, when should you start taking your child to see the dentist? It depends on who you ask. The American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, for instance, say that a first visit should be made when the first tooth appears, and no later than the child’s first birthday. Others say that the first visit should come no later than the child’s second birthday. Some think that three is an appropriate age. Some just want to put it off until the child is more mature and doesn’t need parental assistance in the chair.
So, who is right? Ultimately, it doesn’t so much matter when you first take your child to the dentist, just so long as you get them there.
The Importance of Child Dental Visits
When you begin taking your child to the dentist is up to you as a parent – and we’re not here to judge. However, we are here to tell you how important it is to take your child to the dentist, as it can be tempting for parents to hold off on that initial visit until after the baby teeth fall out. Here’s a closer look at the importance of this.
Taking your child to the dentist early on in their life is important for three reasons.
1. To familiarize your child with the dental office environment.
It’s estimated up to 15 percent of all Americans – or roughly 40 million people – have dental anxiety or fear, which makes seeing a dentist difficult. That’s part of the reason why it’s key to take your child in early in their life, so they’ll get a chance to see the office, meet the staff and have a positive dental experience to build off of from then on. Here are a few additional tips on how to get over your fear of dentists.
2. To check the child’s mouth for any undiagnosed conditions or abnormalities.
A dentist is also able to examine and perform a brief cleaning on your child’s mouth, ensuring that everything looks normal and recommend teeth cleaning practices that should be performed at home. For instance, it’s recommended that parents clean their infant child’s teeth with soft-bristled toothbrushes and water at least once a day. Once the first baby teeth erupt, brushing efforts should increase to twice daily and include a small dab of toothpaste.
Still waiting on those baby teeth to emerge? Check out a few of our top tips for teething.
3. To ensure that the baby teeth are forming properly and paving a viable path for the permanent teeth to eventually erupt.
Finally, many parents don’t realize just how important a child’s baby teeth are. In fact, most dentists will tell you that they’re just as important as permanent teeth. Not only do they aide the child in chewing and speaking, but they also keep space in the jaw for the permanent teeth to eventually come in. Noting this, healthy baby teeth often lead to healthy permanent teeth.
Getting Your Child Started:
Following that initial visit, it’s important to put your child on a schedule where they visit the dentist once every six months. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact our doctors, Dr. Richard Caven, Dr. Shelby Denman, and Dr. Stephen Carpenter, by calling our Caven Dental office in Jacksonville, FL, to schedule a consultation today!