America's Pediatric Dentists recommend that children first visit a dentist before their first birthday or six months after their first tooth appears to get them accustomed to the dentist. While this is a good guideline, the truth is, the majority of parents wait until their child is 2 or 3 years old before making that first visit. Even so, you may be thinking to yourself that there is no way your child will sit still for the dentist at this age. You are not alone. Regardless of how many teeth they have, the age when a child is ready for a successful visit to the dentist varies for every child. So how do you know when your child is ready to take their first trip to the family dentist?
Regular Teeth Brushing
The best way to gauge whether your child is ready for a dentist visit is to observe how well they respond to daily teeth brushing. It does not matter if you are still brushing their teeth for them; the important factor is how well they hold still during this time. If your child willingly allows you to brush their teeth (or better yet, brushes their own teeth), that is a good indication that they would sit still for the dentist. If, however, your child turns their head, tightly pinches their lips together, or whines during teeth brushing, then save both you, the dentist, and your child the agony of a visit right now.
Some pediatricians offer to put fluoride on children's teeth during regular checkups if they have not yet visited the family dentist. If you opt for this treatment, watch how your child reacts. Even if your child allows you to brush their teeth, they may not react the same when the doctor applies the fluoride treatment. As with teeth brushing, if they lay still for the doctor during this procedure, they could do very well for the dentist, but if he kicks, squirms, or screams, wait until he's a little older.
No one knows your child better than you. Whether your child is rambunctious, shy, or has the 'terrible two's,' you will know best of all how your child will react to having a stranger poking around in their mouth. Consider your child's personality before scheduling that first appointment.
Dangers of Putting Off the First Visit
There comes a point, even if your child does not show signs of readiness for the dentist, when you need to make that first trip. Putting off the first visit past their fourth birthday could lead to increased plaque buildup and risk of cavities. Increasingly more children have cavities by the age of 4. The dentist also needs to make sure that your child's permanent teeth are developing normally.
Obviously, if you suspect your child is having problems with their teeth, other than normal tooth growth or loss, take them to see your family dentist regardless of whether they show signs of being ready or not. Some instances when you may want to bring them to the dentist include:
Suspicion of cavities
Tooth pushed into the jawbone (dental intrusion)
Black or dark tooth (dental concussion)
While it is important that all children receive good dental care early in life, sometimes it can do more damage than good to bring a child before they are ready. If your child seems to have a healthy mouthful of teeth, avoid the stress and possibility of causing fear of the dentist for your child and wait until they show signs of readiness. In the meantime, make sure you are taking good care of your child's teeth, inspecting their mouth regularly, and prepping them for their first visit. When they show they are ready, schedule an appointment with a family dentist like Ken Chang DDS without worry.Share
30 December 2014
My son was outside playing with some friends when he accidentally fell down and hit his mouth on the sidewalk. The fall knocked out his front tooth, so I immediately placed the tooth in a small jar and added some milk. I rushed my son to the dental clinic and the dentist immediately took us into the examination room. The dentist placed the tooth back into the socket and saved it. My name is Beverly Tillman and thanks to the quick work of the dentist, my son didn't lose his tooth. Since this was a scary time for me and my son, I wanted to write this blog as a source of information for other parents who are facing a dental emergency. First of all, don't panic and get to your dentist as soon as possible. I hope this blog will help to answer your questions about dental emergencies.