When should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?

It’s never too soon to think about protecting that baby smile! Whether it’s a gummy grin with one tooth or a whole mouth full of pearly whites, you should start thinking about how to protect those teeth and gums and keep them healthy. The American Dental Association recommends that your child see the dentist for the first time when the first tooth appears and no later than his or her first birthday. Not only will this help with spotting any potential problems with tooth decay but it will also familiarize your child with the dentist office to reduce fear and anxiety in the future.

But aren’t they just baby teeth? Yes, but baby teeth are important for chewing, speaking, and creating a path for permanent teeth. Not to mention, toothaches hurt whether they occur primary teeth or in permanent ones.

Prepare your child for their first visit by asking your pediatric dentist about what he intends to do during that first visit. This way you can prepare your child for exactly what will happen. Use positive words when discussing the visit. Remember that your child has no history with the dentist so don’t assume that it will be anything less than a positive experience. Some examples are talking about how the chair goes up and down and practice having the child open their mouth and counting the teeth. However, be aware there is a line where you’re talking too much about the visit and it can make it seem like a bigger deal that it is. Take your cues from your child.

What goes on during the first visit can vary by age but expect at least an examination of teeth, gums, and any problem areas. If your child is compliant, there may be a cleaning or a polishing of teeth. Your pediatric dentist will be able to answer any questions you have about home care and will make sure your child is comfortable throughout the visit.

Making sure your child builds a positive relationship with the dentist for a lifetime of stress-free visits starts early. A pediatric dentist is a specialist in the dental health of infants, toddlers, and through adolescence. They have received special training following dental school and limit the practice of dentistry only to children. This can make a big difference during a first visit. Pediatric dentists are trained to win the trust of wee ones but also they are experts in kid-specific issues. But perhaps most importantly, a pediatric dentist has centered their practice entirely around children, so they tend to have the personality, and experience to tend to the needs of the young patients.

This article is brought to you by Dr. Cobb The Kid’s Dentist, an Olathe, Kansas provider of comprehensive, high- quality pediatric dental care. If you wish to make an appointment for a dental cleaning or evaluation, feel free to contact the office of Dr. David J. Cobb.

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