Visits to the dentist are important during your child’s formative years of tooth development. This ensures any dental problems are dealt with before they turn into something more serious, which can be difficult and costly to fix.
Of course, that begs the question, when should you take your toddler to the dentist? Should you wait until all the baby teeth come in? Or when a real problem arises? The short answer is: the first visit should happen when the first baby tooth erupts in the mouth.
Your child’s first dentist visit should happen no later than age one to two, which usually coincides with the eruption of the first baby tooth. This appointment is important because it allows the dentist to check out your child’s gum health and see if the teeth are growing in properly.
Of course, sometimes other issues come up that may demand a first dentist appointment, like abnormal bleeding in gums. While a little bit of blood spotting may occur if your baby develops an eruption hematoma – a blister on their gums during teething – more than a few drops are a just cause for concern, and a dental appointment should be made as soon as possible.
Visiting the dentist for the first time can be intimidating for a little one, but a number of measures can be taken to make the first visits an enjoyable, safe experience. For the most part, the first visit is about introducing your child to the dentist’s office:
- Getting familiar with the staff.
- Letting them get familiar with various dental instruments. Some dentists give their instruments fun, harmless names, like calling the hand piece a “tooth sweeper.”
- Taking a ride in the chair.
Between dentist visits, it’s important to keep your child on the path to strong teeth and a beautiful smile. The below tips will help immensely:
- Stop thumb sucking habits as soon as possible, as they can cause tooth misalignment.
- Choose a soft, kid-size brush, like the Oral-B Pro-Health Stages toothbrush, and replace it every three months.
- Use no more than a small, pea-size amount of toothpaste on your child's brush. This provides enough fluoride for protection while avoiding over-ingestion of fluoride, which can be harmful.
- Brush your toddler's teeth after breakfast and before bed. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents brush their children's teeth until they're eight years old.
- Avoid sugary and starchy foods and snacks as they increase the risk of decay.
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