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As every parent knows, looking after our children including their health is a top priority. As our children grow there comes a time when we start thinking ‘when would be a good time to take them to the dentist for the first time?’ As teeth naturally develop slowly and change over time, many parents can be confused as to when the best time is to do this. The general advice and consensus in the dentist industry seems to reflect that anytime between when the first teeth appear, but no later than aged one to two years old is probably an appropriate time.
Remember that many adults fear the dentist and never visit which can be damaging for both oral health and wellbeing generally. As with anything in life, the earlier you start a new experience and get used to it, the more likely you are to become more comfortable with it. As regards children and dentists this is very important, because regular visits to the dentist foster the benefits as the child grows and becomes an adult.
Generally speaking the initial visits of a child to the dentist shouldn’t be to do any kind of work as at such an early age, it would be unusual that a child would need to go to have problems sorted out. The first few visits should be to get the child used to the environment, the instruments and comfortable in the setting. Most dentists agree that only when the child seems happy after all this has taken place that the dentist should start to slowly have a look inside the children’s mouth and take things very gently from there.
The benefits of taking this ‘slowly slowly’ approach are many as we have already seen, but perhaps the most important is that it builds trust and allows the child to relax which is important for a good long term relationship with the child (and later adult) and the dentist. It is normally encouraged that parents come into the dental room with their child which will help ease their nerves, but as soon as possible it is recommended that the child comes in alone. This builds a sense of confidence and independence and gets the child used to the idea of having control over their own health.
Once the dentist does get around to examining the child’s mouth and teeth for the first time, they will want to check everything is developing normally and for any signs of decay. They will also talk to the parent/s about good practices and how you can ensure the child continues to care for their oral health.
After the initial few visits, it is recommended that the child visits the dentist every six months unless any problems develop. The earlier visits are started the better, and with starting at such an early age, each visit should build on the last ensuring that the child’s teeth and oral health is properly cared for and addressed.
If the child does start visiting the dentist at an early age then generally by around the age of 3, the child starts receiving normal appointments and perhaps x-rays as soon as possible.
If you have a child then you might be tempted to put off visiting the dentist because it can seem like an ordeal or you’d rather prefer not placing your child under unnecessary stress. In the long run however, you will be doing your child a big favour by visiting as early possible and leaving the child with the idea that visiting the dentist is no more different to visiting the doctor. They will probably even get a nice gold sticker or star!
To talk to us more about your child visiting our practice, find all our details on the contact us section now.