As a parent, there are many things that come to mind when thinking about the health of your child. One of the most common questions that parents have is “When should my child start going to the dentist?” It truly is a great question, and we are here to help answer it!
Before your child ever sees a dentist, it is your responsibility to make sure that your child’s teeth are well cared for. Preferably, it should begin even before the first tooth pokes through! Under your little baby’s gums, there are 20 primary teeth. Before these teeth make their appearance, parents should clean the babies gum with a damp cloth in order to get rid of bacteria that can form in the mouth. When teeth begin poking through around the six-month mark, brush them with a soft brush and regular water.
Children should begin seeing the dentist after their first birthday to begin their dental care journey. The first visit will establish the foundation for future dental visits, and for their dental records that will follow them for years to come.
The first dental visit will give the parents an overview of:
- Good dental hygiene.
- Finger and thumb sucking.
- How to care for a child’s teeth.
- The connection between foods and good teeth.
After the first visit, it is recommended to return regularly for dental checkups- one to two times a year depending on your insurance plan. Of course, if you would like more than what is covered by your plan, you are welcome to pay out of pocket for additional dental visits to ensure the best dental health.
The next critical appointment is the exam at age 4. Children of this age are at a pivotal point with their dental health. It is the time to correct any bad habits that have formed over the years. If your child sucks their thumb or fingers, it will be addressed at this appointment. The dental professional will be able to give suggestions that will help the child overcome these habits in no time at all! This appointment is the “middle ground” between when a child should first start seeing the dentist, and when an orthodontist visit may be required.
By the time a child turns 7, they should begin getting their first set of molars. Orthodontists are able to check the horizontal and vertical areas of the moth and identify any dental issues that could arise in the future, due to how the teeth are growing. This visit will help reduce the need for future extractions of permanent teeth in the future.
Most dental visits between ages 6-12 are preventative dental visits, and are helpful in creating a positive dental routine for both parents and children. Typically, it is recommended by dental professionals that children between ages 7-9 have a sealant placed on their teeth. This sealant is made of a plastic resin that bonds to surfaces as a way to prevent teeth from getting cavities. The molars are great candidates for sealants because they have a lot of grooves that bacteria likes to adhere to. When bacteria remains, cavities form.
When it comes to good oral hygiene, consistency is imperative. Brush two times daily, gloss, and return to the dentist for regular checkups. The dentist will teach the child how to brush and floss correctly, and make sure they are doing it during their appointments. Typically, parents are a little more lax when it comes to dental hygiene, so the dentist will really stress the proper way of taking care of the teeth to the child directly. When parents stick to a regular dental exam routine, the child will get the ideal oral care that they deserve, and a sparkling smile!