When to Take a Child to a Dentist for the First Time
The question of “When should a child go to the dentist?” can occur to parents much later than it should. According to the American Dental Association, delayed visits increase the child’s chances of developing tooth decay exponentially.
It’s important to set them up for success early. The following tips will help you know when the time is right and how to get them excited about it.
- Start Watching for Teeth Early
The first dentist visit age for your little one should be around the time their primary teeth start to come in. You want to set your little ones up for a bright future, after all, and healthy primary teeth set the tone.
When the baby’s first tooth comes in may vary, though it’s usually within the first year of life. Your little one will typically let you know when that occurs through general fussy-ness not associated with diaper changes, sleepiness, or hunger.
- Bring the Dentist to Playtime
As your child progresses, your major concern may not be “When should I take my baby to the dentist?” Rather, it becomes a matter of, “How do I get my child to the dentist without traumatizing him or her for life?”
Making matters worse, children generally fear the unknown, and what’s more unknown to them than visiting a dentist for the first time? To combat this fear, it’s a good idea to work imaginary dental visits into playtime. Let your toddler play the role of a dentist examining each of your teeth and giving his prognosis.
- Make Good Oral Hygiene a Nightly Routine
Another thing to be mindful of when asking when should kids go to the dentist is that good hygiene practices make the visit itself so much easier. A child who brushes her teeth every night, or who knows that’s part of the bedtime routine, may actually be excited about visiting the dentist and showing off her pearly-whites!
- Model Dental Hygiene for Your Children
Something else that’ll help you with the decision of what age should a child go to the dentist: if they see you modeling good hygiene. Children are naturally curious and love to emulate their parents, so give them something worth emulating!
Welcome them into the bathroom while you’re brushing. Let them stare at you as you go through the motions. As they get older, encourage them to brush with you!
- Put Your Kid in a Good Headspace for the Visit
Finally, it’s time to mentally prepare them for the visit. This would include not waiting for a problem to go see the dentist, as well as the following steps:
Talk About the Visit Specifics
Play down fears if they ask whether it will hurt. Then, talk about what the dentist will do along with comments about what tickles or feels cool.
Focus on What You Are Going to Do After the Visit
Building fun traditions like going to the movies afterward around a dental visit is a hit. Ask your child what they want to do and let them help plan!
Play Up the Waiting Room
Many practitioners of kids orthodontics go out of their way to make their waiting room a welcoming experience for the child.
Use the knowledge you have of your child’s temperament to your advantage. Pretty soon, they’ll be looking forward to their next visit!
When Should a Child Go to the Dentist?
We hope by now you realize the answer to, “When should a child go to the dentist?” is in the first 6-12 months of the child’s life. Don’t wait too long after that first tooth erupts to do it.
Your child’s teeth will play an enormous role in their lives, and an early visit sets them up for success. For more help and advice on your child’s dental health, check out some of our additional posts on the topic!