Dental Care for Children
Even the smallest teeth need attention and care. Infants will start to teethe at about six months old, and many of the baby teeth will erupt above the gum line by the time the child is one year old. This is why the first dental appointment for your child should take place by his or her first birthday. A child’s first appointment with a dentist does typically not involve any treatment. Instead, this visit is a wellness check for the infant to discuss oral care during development and introduce oral care habits as a routine to keep up with throughout their life.
The First Appointment
At the appointment, you can hold your child in your arms while the dentist examines his or her teeth and mouth. You should use this opportunity to discuss your child’s medical history and any issues you’re concerned about. The dentist will review the child’s teething and tooth development to see that their growth is on track. The dentist can give you guidance on weaning the child off a pacifier at the right time and advise you how to handle habits like thumb sucking, or chewing on objects like kids do!
While at the dentist with your child, you should review proper brushing and hygiene routines. The dentist can show you how to brush your child’s teeth or guide you through for practice. Another thing that should be discussed at a first appointment is how to prevent trauma to your child's mouth. The teeth are still developing, and the sensitive tissues of the gums and cheeks are vulnerable as well. Talk to your dentist about common mistakes and accidents, and how to keep your child’s mouth healthy while it develops. Depending on the condition of your child’s teeth, the dentist may recommend a gentle cleaning or fluoride treatment on your first visit. Once you’ve introduced the child to the dentist and completed your first appointment, you should bring the child back the dentist every six months.
Establishing healthy oral care habits from a young age is important, and can set children up to have healthy smiles their whole lives. After your first appointment, keep brushing your child’s teeth at home. When they get older and are able to handle a brush themselves, let them brush their own teeth first to get in the habit, then take a turn yourself to make sure they’ve been cleaned. A great way to make sure they stay in the habit as they grow is to brush your own teeth with them every day. Kids are always watching what their parents do, so take care of your own smile to lead by example!