When Should My Child Start Going to the Dentist?

It’s actually a lot earlier than you probably think!

Your child needs to see a dentist as soon as he or she has teeth.  This can be as early as six months of age.  We know this may sound super early, but if you think about it seriously, anyone with teeth needs to see a dentist.  We’ll explain why.

Why So Early?

Baby bottle 2There are several reasons to take your baby to the dentist.  The first is what we described in the previous paragraph.  When your baby has teeth, a dentist needs to evaluate those teeth.  There are rare dental conditions that can affect teeth, which would change the way you care for your baby’s teeth if caught early.  Your dentist not only evaluates the teeth, but also the gums where other teeth will come in, the jaws, and all the soft tissues inside the mouth.

An early visit to the dentist will help your child get accustomed to dental evaluations so that there is less chance of fear and apprehension as the child grows.

It is also essential for you, the parent, to learn as much as you can about caring for your baby’s teeth at every stage.  Your early visit to the dentist is as much about educating you as it is about evaluating your baby.

What Will Happen at This Visit?

When you see the dentist for your baby’s first visit, a couple things will take place.  Being prepared for this visit helps you and your baby have a better experience.

First, and most important to understand, your baby will cry.  This is completely normal and actually a little helpful.  When your child cries, it allows the dentist to see the inside of the mouth.

Most likely, we will have you sit knee to knee with the dentist and hold your baby laying down in our joint laps.  Your cooperation helps us complete the baby’s oral evaluation as quickly as possible.

The dentist will also use a gloved finger to feel the baby’s gums where no teeth have yet come in.  You may notice her pulling lightly on the baby’s lips, cheeks and tongue in order to see everything.  Again, your baby’s crying is helpful, so don’t let it upset you.  The crying is from fear, not pain.

After evaluating the baby’s teeth, mouth and jaws, your dentist and/or dental hygienist will begin instructing you on the best ways to take care of your baby’s mouth.  This will include oral hygiene instructions and nutritional counseling.  You do need to brush your teeth, and you also need to consider everything you allow your baby to eat and drink.

What Do I Need to Do to Keep My Child’s Teeth Healthy?

Consistent dental visits are key to keeping your child’s teeth healthy.  During these visits, the dentist and dental hygienist will closely monitor any potential risk factors or problems with your child’s oral health.  As the child gets older, he or she will begin having professional teeth cleanings, dental x-rays, fluoride treatments, and dental sealants to prevent dental diseases from developing.

Baby brushing teeth

In addition to taking your child to the dentist regularly, you also need to perform oral hygiene.  It is your job to brush and floss until the child is old enough to properly perform those tasks.  This usually does not occur until age six or seven years!  Make sure you keep up a consistent routine, especially at bedtime.  Once broken, this habit is very difficult to resume.

Lastly, you are responsible for what your child eats and drinks.  Keeping him on a healthy, balanced diet that is low in sugar and other simple carbohydrates is necessary to prevent cavities.  Children should never drink sodas.  Sports drinks and juices should only be given in moderation and at the same time as a meal.  For snacks, consider foods with fat or protein, like cheese and nuts, instead of chips, crackers or sweets.

More Questions about Taking Your Child to the Dentist?

Call 972-347-1145 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  Our dentists and dental hygienists are experts at dealing with children of all ages.  They will give you all the information you need to keep your child in great oral health.

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