What’s The Right Time For Your Child’s First Dental Visit?
Dental care is important for everyone to help prevent any potential oral health problems and that includes your precious young child!
First teeth are also known as baby teeth or primary teeth and are no less important than an adult’s permanent teeth.
The suggested time for your child's first visit to the dentist is around the age of one, but we know that children develop differently, and don’t all reach their milestones at the same time. So, the general rule is to visit your dental practitioner with your baby about 6 months after the first tooth has made an appearance.
What can you expect at your child’s
first dental visit?
As soon as the first tooth makes an appearance, you should know how to take care of your baby’s dental health. There are many pitfalls that you may be unaware of that may affect your baby’s teeth.
For example: some children fall asleep while drinking a bottle of milk. This leads to tooth decay in the erupted teeth because the sugars in the milk turn acidic by the bacteria in the mouth. This acid attacks the enamel of the teeth when there is prolonged exposure leading to cavities.
Primary teeth play an important role in how the child chews and also with speech. They also act as placeholders for the permanent teeth below the gum line.
You may choose to see a regular dentist or may opt to see a paediatric dentist. The latter dental professional has additional training to treat younger patients with teeth that are still developing, specialises in child behaviour, and is also equipped to handle special needs kids.
Both regular and paediatric dentists can treat your child but if you have specific requirements then perhaps finding a paediatric dentist is preferable.
A dentist whose patients are all children will have support staff and an environment that is kid-friendly. Your child’s paediatrician or even your dentist will be able to advise you on the type of dentist required for your child.
The first visit will be an opportunity for the dentist to gently introduce himself and his dental equipment to the child. It is important for the dental professional to establish and build trust with your child.
At this first examination, the dentist will look for any potential cavities, closely inspect the gums and check the bite pattern.
At your child’s first visit you will be required to answer the medical information questionnaire as fully as possible to ensure the best possible care. Make sure you have all relevant information available to avoid any misdiagnoses or delays with treatment.
How can your child benefit from the dental visit?
As soon as the first teeth appear, they are vulnerable to cavities. Your dentist can introduce you and your child to good oral hygiene habits that can last a lifetime. He will demonstrate the best way to keep the visible tooth/teeth clean to prevent cavities.
Many people are under the false impression that primary teeth are not as important because they fall out eventually and are replaced by permanent teeth. But any signs of decay in the first teeth pose a risk to the child’s overall health and increase the chances of cavities in the permanent teeth.
The dentist will check if there is a need for fluoride supplementation.
Your dental professional is the best person to check if your child is meeting his dental development milestones as per acceptable paediatric guidelines.
Many children choose self-soothing habits like thumb-sucking. These can have negative consequences on the emerging teeth and can even affect the child’s bite pattern. The dentist can help by giving suggestions to prevent this.
Proper nutrition is key to your child’s overall health but also directly impacts the health of his teeth and gums. Your dentist can advise you on what to eat to ensure your child has the required daily allowance of all vitamins and minerals for healthy teeth and gums.
Teeth that are in the process of erupting are painful and very uncomfortable for your child. There are so many varying symptoms like fever and loose stools that may indicate teething. These can bewilder and stress you as a parent as you witness your child in pain and discomfort.
The dentist is best placed to answer any teething questions you may have and can also advise you on the best remedies.
The general suggestion of visiting your dentist every six months still holds for the younger patient. Seeing his dentist regularly will increase the child’s confidence and trust in his dental health professional.
Which teeth can you expect to see the first year?
Your developing baby experiences many highlights for the first time like the first steps, the first words and the first tooth. The first dental visit is also one of those important highlights. Keep a positive attitude that will relax your child and encourage confidence in your child towards their dental care.
Dr. Nabil Mockbil received his DDS in 2001 from Umea University in Sweden, regarded as having the best dentist programme in Sweden for undergraduates. He’s now the founder of Swedish Dental Clinic in Dubai.