When Should My Child First Visit the Dentist?
A question we are commonly asked as a dentist is ‘at what age should I first bring my child to see a dentist?’. This is a very reasonable question given that children don’t start getting their permanent teeth until 6 years of age.
The answer is simple, your child’s first visit should be at 1 year of age, once they have started to get their baby teeth. There are multiple reasons for this. The dentist does not solely assess their baby teeth, but rather the mouth in totality; the gums, tongue, cheeks and even airways. By performing this full examination, the dentist can help intervene early if any problem is arising.
The other reason is that baby teeth play such an important role in your child eventually getting their permanent teeth. Early loss or extraction of baby teeth can lead to teeth drifting, crowded adult teeth and even blocking the space for the adult teeth to erupt. Therefore the role that the baby teeth play as space maintainers for the adult teeth is crucially important.
Regular dental visits for children also helps the dentist ensure correct brushing habits are being instilled at home, help wean off habits such as thumb-sucking and ultimately to keep the teeth free from decay which can cause pain and feeding difficulties. Regular dental visits also allow children to become familiar and comfortable with seeing a dentist every 6 months and believe it not, they may even ask you to take them back sooner as they enjoy coming!
In preparation of your child’s first dental visit, it is beneficial to practice at home by asking your child to open their mouth and together start counting their teeth. Use positive statements when referring to the dentist to position it as a positive experience, for example, get your child excited about ‘going for a ride on the dental chair’. Try to also stay positive about dental visits and never use going to the dentist as a deterrent by saying things like ‘if you don’t brush your teeth the dentist will need to pull out your tooth’.
The Australian Dental Association has published a list of things to avoid when preparing your child for their first dental visit:
1. Don’t tell your child to be brave (they already are)
2. Don’t bribe your child
3. Don’t tell your child that it won’t hurt (or it will)
4. Don’t use the dentist as a deterrent or punishment
5. Don’t be anxious yourself
We hope this blog has been of some use to you and we can’t wait to share your child’s first dental experience with you at Leichhardt Dental. If you have any questions please fell free to drop us a comment on Facebook or Instagram.
Also just a reminder of our ongoing promotion that all check-ups and cleans for children are gap-free or bulk-billed under the Child Dental Benefit Schedule. If your child is not eligible under either of these contact us for our special promotion!