When is the right age to take your child to the dentist?
SUMMARY: Getting that first tooth is a milestone - but it's important to head to the dentist soon after.
Posted: July 22, 2014
Welcoming a new bundle of joy into the world is an exciting time, and during the first year there are many steps that new moms and dads must take to ensure that their children are living as healthy lives as possible - and this includes oral health for kids.
On top of those first pediatric visits, immunizations and other necessary medical care, it can be easy to see why oral health gets swept under the rug. However, there are many conditions that can arise if you don't take your child to see the dentist in those first years, from baby bad breath to canker sores and cavities. According to Dentistry Today, 30 percent of all children suffer from tooth decay, so pediatric dental care shouldn't be taken lightly. Although it goes without saying that most kids aren't huge fans of the dentist, it is a very important aspect of their overall health and a must-do as a parent.
But when is the best time to head to the dentist with your baby? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry offered some insight into this frequently asked question, among other facts about your child's dental health that you might want to be aware of.
Once that first tooth appears, head to the dentist: The AAPD suggests that you should begin dental care for your infant as soon as that first tooth appears. This will usually occur around his or her first birthday. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't start brushing before then - your kid's gums can also build up plaque and bacteria, so it's vital that you start a brushing routine as soon as possible.
Baby teeth are important: Just because your child ends up losing them doesn't mean that primary teeth are not a priority. Baby teeth are actually an evolutionary trait that allows children to learn how to chew and speak and also guides permanent teeth to find their path through the gumline. Because of this, it's important to keep them clean and healthy during childhood.
How much toothpaste is appropriate for baby's teeth: A little toothpaste goes a long way with baby teeth. Usually a pea-sized amount will suffice. Just be sure that you are using an infant toothbrush with soft bristles. Infants' gums can be extremely sensitive, so brush gently.
Differences between a pediatric dentist and a regular dentist: Taking care of children's teeth, as you might imagine, requires a different set of guidelines and operating procedures and a different focus. In fact, pediatric dentists will normally go through a requirement process that takes two to three extra years of specialty training.
What to expect at the dentist's office: During your child's first dental visit, there will most likely be an informal meet and greet, then the doctor will likely take a look at your child's teeth and gums briefly to see if there are any problems he or she needs to address. You might need to stay in the exam room with your child, depending on his or her comfort level.