Your child’s first visit
The best time for your child’s first dental checkup is around their third birthday. While the idea of taking your child to the dentist may seem daunting, the first visit should be short and require very little treatment. The examination will most likely be brief, and you will most likely be asked to hold your child during the examination to ensure their comfort. In some cases, you may be asked to wait in the waiting room during the appointment, to allow your child to interact with the dentist on their own terms, to ensure a healthy relationship with dental care down the road.
The dentist will examine your child’s teeth gently and carefully to ensure they have grown in correctly. In some cases, an x-ray will be taken to detect any decay within their teeth, as well as to ensure their permanent teeth are coming in correctly. This can help prevent issues before their adult teeth grow in. Topical fluoride may be applied to your child’s teeth in order to prevent decay, as well as to make sure that the proper home application of fluoride can be achieved. The most important aspect of their first visit, however, is to ensure good dental hygiene habits, and make sure that all of their teeth are coming in correctly.
Preparing Your Child for Their First Dental Visit
This is one of the most common questions asked about a first dental visit. It is easiest to adjust your child to an unfamiliar situation, such as a dental office, much like you would any other location, such as a haircut salon or a new store. Be prepared for a variety of reactions from your child to a new location, as you may be unprepared for their response.
Here are some “First Visit” tips:
- Visit the office with your child as a “preview”
- Introduce them to going to the dentist through books and TV shows
- Let them know what to expect at the dentist, such as tooth cleaning
- Tell them about your own positive experiences with the dentist
During your first visit the dentist will:
- Check your child’s teeth and gums
- Check dental habits, like thumb sucking, that can cause issues down the road
- Evaluate if your child needs fluoride
- Teach you about proper dental hygiene
- Talk with you about a regular dental visit schedule
What about preventative care?
Dental decay and children don’t have to go together like they used to. At our office, we want to make sure you and your child practice healthy habits that prevent decay. We use advanced dental sealants to ensure your child’s teeth are protected. Using space-age plastics that protect the fine ridges of the chewing surface on your child’s teeth, we can help protect one of the more at risk dental surfaces from decay. This is just one of the many ways we help ensure your child’s teeth are as healthy as possible for the rest of their lives.
Often cavities are due to poor dental hygiene and an overly sugary diet. Making sure your child is taking good care of their teeth while brushing, as well as keeping an eye on their sugar intake, can help prevent cavities down the road. Keep an eye out for slow eaters as well, as the longer the teeth are coated in left over residue from their food, the more likely cavities are to form. Due to the acidic reaction between food and the bacteria in your mouth, the tooth structure is at risk, especially with the consumption of sugary foods. This reaction can last up to 20 minutes, and threatens the health of your child’s teeth.
One of the other factors that contribute to tooth decay is the consistency of the saliva. Thinner saliva breaks up food more quickly, leading to less food residue on the teeth. However, a higher sugar consumption has been tied to thicker saliva, which can lead to a higher chance of tooth decay.
Tips for cavity prevention
- Make sure to limit meal and snack lengths
- Encourage oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing
- Limit sugary drinks
- Avoid troublesome foods, such as sticky or hard candies
- Work sweeter foods into their meals to avoid over-exposure to sugars
- Swap sugary snacks for healthier options
Baby teeth first begin to come in at the front of the mouth, around the age of 6-8 months. After the first two teeth come in, the upper 4 front teeth follow. After this, the rest of your child’s teeth should come in naturally, most often growing in in pairs until the age of three.
By the time your child is three years old, they should have all 20 of their baby teeth. Between five and six years old, their first permanent teeth should begin to grow in. Some permanent teeth replace their baby teeth, others grow in on their own. The time table of teeth growth is a guideline, however, so don’t be concerned if your child is slightly ahead or behind, as all children are different!
Baby teeth are crucial to dental health down the road, as they not only hold a space for your child’s adult teeth, but are also crucial to their daily activities, such as eating and speech development. Because of this, it is important to practice good dental hygiene at a young age, as well as to watch their diet for overly sugary foods.