When should children first visit the dentist and why?

Helping your child establish good oral hygiene habits early in life gives them a great head start to achieving a healthy and beautiful smile for life. As a parent, you are the primary role model for your child and are in the perfect position to help your child establish such routines. If they see you brushing your teeth morning and night, and you then do the same for them, they will view caring for their teeth as being a normal part of daily life. 

As part of establishing this routine for your child it is important to not only supervise and encourage your child’s daily oral care regime, but to also partner with your dentist as a co-carer for your child’s teeth. By commencing six monthly visits to the dentist early, this too will become a normal process for your child and importantly, not something to be feared. So, how early should you begin this visiting cycle?

It is generally recommended that children see a dentist for the first time when their first tooth becomes visible or at least by the time they reach 12 months of age. While this may seem early, this visit allows the dentist to meet your child and for your child to become familiar with the dental environment. The dentist will check the status of your child’s teeth and gums, and most importantly will provide advice on how best to care for your child’s teeth now that they have started to arrive. Dental decay is a preventable condition, so early advice on how to care for young teeth is crucial in helping prevent decay occurring.

As your child grows and their teeth develop, the six monthly visits will allow the dentist to complete a comprehensive assessment of your child and their developing mouth. The dentist will be able to identify any areas the child (or yourself) are finding difficult to clean and provide advice on how best to reach these areas when brushing and/or flossing. The dentist can then provide a professional clean for your child and apply fluoride to the developing teeth. The regular application of fluoride will strengthen your child’s teeth and increase their resistance to decay. The dentist can also encourage your child in their oral hygiene habits supporting the care you are already providing at home. This combination of home care and regular dental check-ups will give your child the best opportunity to grow up cavity free. 

If your child does experience tooth decay, the regular check-ups will allow detection of this early, when treating the decay is less complex.

In an effort to assist you in caring for your child’s teeth and overall health, your dentist may also discuss your child’s diet. Some food items conceal large amounts of hidden sugar and/or acid that can cause decay. Your dentist can help encourage positive habits like drinking water and eating whole fruits and raw vegetables.

Need to locate a child-friendly dentist? Contact your local Pacific Smiles Dental clinic.

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