Your Child's First Dental Visit
Dental care for children is one of the most important events in a child’s development. Not only will good dental care and experiences set the tone for an entire life of dental care but also keep them healthy and happy. The first dental visit is an extremely important step in a child’s life.
Best Age For First Visit?
The ideal time for a child’s first dental visit is about 6 months after the first tooth eruption, or up to 2 years old. The reason for this timing is to give the dentist a chance to assess development of the child’s mouth as well as to dispense dental hygiene instructions, help with teething, thumb sucking, and pacifier sucking issues to the parents. Dental issues, and tooth decay can start early, so it is best to see the dentist sooner than later.
So What happens at the first visit?
The first dental visit is usually quite short and probably will not involve any treatment. This visit is usually designed as a meet and greet in a non threatening and very friendly way. Usually the child will sit in the parents lap, and experience a ” tell, show, do” visit. This is where the dentist talks to the child , shows the instruments, lets them touch things, and does a limited dental examination. Depending on the dentist and child, parents may or may not be asked to wait outside. Each child, and parent will be different in how they handle being at the dentist.
During the dental examination, your dentist will check all of your child’s existing teeth for tooth decay, examine your child’s bite, and look for any potential problems with the gums, jaw, and oral tissues. If necessary, the dentist will clean any teeth and check the need for fluoride application. The big component of the first dental visit at this age is dental hygiene education as well as answering any questions that parents might have.
The early dental visit will help you and your child build trust in your dentist. As a parent, you will see, that every 6 months there is a huge change in your child’s development and maturity. So, be assured, that even if your child cannot handle very much the first visit, it will become markedly easier at the next 6 month visit. For a child, they will become used to the dental visits, and usually look forward to them.
Dental Education Can Include:
-How to maintain a good oral hygiene regimen for your child’s teeth and gums as well as cavity prevention.
-Assess the need for fluoride supplements.
-Oral habits and their effects. These include thumb sucking, pacifier habits, and tongue thrusting.
-Developmental issues like teething.
-Nutrition instructions including foods, and beverages to avoid to decrease chance of tooth decay.
-Schedule of dental examinations. Most children are seen every 6 months just like adults. This allows the child to become more and more comfortable at the dentist as well as allow the dentist to closely monitor development and promptly treat any issues.
First Dental X-Rays for Children?
In general, dental x-rays should be taken when a child has back teeth which are in tight contact with each other, when a cavity is detected, or an anomaly is noted. Back teeth x-rays, (bite wings) and a jaw x-ray,(panoramic) should be taken by age 6 to assess developing teeth. It all depends on the children and their risk levels for dental problems like tooth decay or cleft lip/palate. If the child is deemed to be at a higher risk, then x-rays will be necessary earlier. Most children will have had their first dental x-rays by age 6. Dental X-rays play an important role in allowing your dentist to see if all permanent teeth are developing properly in your child’s jaw as well as detecting tooth decay.
The main takeaway is that children need proper dental care and instruction to maintain their dental health. The earlier you get started with your kids the better off they will be as children and as adults.