If you are a parent of a young child, his or her health is a priority. A healthy mouth is linked with good overall health, and you may be wondering when your child should visit the dentist for the first check-up. The general guidance is to visit after the emergence of the first tooth or when the child turns 1, whichever comes first. Even before the first dentist visit, practicing good dental habits is important to prevent issues with the gums and incoming teeth.
Importance of Early Dental Care
As with professional care at any age, going to the dentist as a child helps to prevent future dental issues and catch potential problems quickly. Not only does the dentist clean the teeth to remove the buildup of tartar and plaque, but there is also an exam that can detect cavities early on. Baby teeth are vulnerable to decay, and untreated cavities can have numerous negative consequences, such as:
• Bite alignment problems
• Reluctance to eat healthy food
• Speech impediments
• Hindrance of proper adult teeth alignment
• Severe tooth pain
• Infections that affect nearby teeth and gums
Children who visit the dentist when they are very young tend to have fewer cavities. Other benefits include clearer speech, increased self-confidence, the ability to chew food more thoroughly, and the development of long-term dental hygiene habits.
Along with regular dentist visits, parents should practice good dental care at home. This can begin even before teeth come in. For an infant and young baby, you can just use a warm washcloth over the gums. Once teeth begin to appear, you can use a soft, baby-size brush on them with water or a non-fluoridated toothpaste. Fluoride should be avoided until at least the age of 2 or when the child is able to spit the toothpaste out.
What To Expect at the First Check-Up
Pediatric dentists are skilled at caring for young children, so they provide a safe and comforting environment from the start. At the first check-up, the dentist will ask about the child's medical history and if he or she has temperament issues, such as anxiety, fearfulness, or stubbornness. This information is especially helpful if dental work, such as a filling, needs to be done.
The main purpose of the first visit is to help your child feel comfortable and get an overall view of the teeth and mouth. The dentist will perform an exam of the teeth, gums, and mouth. If necessary, the dentist will do a light cleaning of the teeth. Depending on the age of the child, the dentist may demonstrate how to brush and floss at home.
As with adults, most kids should visit the dentist every six months. The dentist will advise on more frequent visits if developmental problems are expected.
Make an Appointment for Your Child As soon as your child is ready for a dental appointment, make an appointment at the Pediatric Dental Group. As pediatric dentists, they know how to treat children and how to make their visits comfortable and fun.