First Visits and Young Children
The First Year
By twelve months old your child can have as few as one or two teeth or as many as twelve teeth. In the time between two and three years of age kids get their full set of baby teeth with molars appearing last and the front middle teeth usually emerging first. Often the exact moment a child’s first dental visit is recommended can seem arbitrary. Sometimes recommendations call for a dental visit at age one and some recommend as soon as teeth first appear. With such a wide range it may be hard to decide how urgent that first dental check up should be.
First Impressions and a Positive Experience
A good rule of thumb is to start regular check-ups with the dentist after the first tooth has erupted, or by the age of one at the latest. Very young children become accustomed to visiting various places and can quickly build a positive impression of the dentist office when they have several quick, easy and positive visits. Learning to sit in the dental chair, open up and say, “ah” and having fingers and tools in their mouth can seem strange for a little one. A small child with a few positive past experiences will be much more inclined to trust the dentist if and when a bigger issue should arise.
Quick and Invaluable
A first visit to the dentist can be a very brief visit or last as long as thirty minutes. The dentist will check; bite alignment, erupted and erupting teeth, and surrounding soft tissues. Since decay can start as soon as teeth erupt, the dentist will also thoroughly check teeth for signs of decay, then go over at home care with you and your child. If indicated they may perform a gentle cleaning to remove plaque, tartar, any stains and quickly polish teeth.
Questions and History
If you have any questions or concerns there will be time to discuss these things as well. Questions you have may range from fluoride use, number of times and length of time to brush, appropriate tooth brushes, or discussing previous bumps and tumbles that may leave teeth chipped or injured, mentioning those events can help your dentist evaluate potential future issues.
Best Times To Set Up Appointments
Earlier in the day many children will have a much higher tolerance for new experiences and new people. A goodnights rest, and a nice breakfast will set the stage for successful dental visit and exam. Bringing a favorite toy, book, or blanket can also be helpful in building confidence while visiting a new place like the dentist office.
First time dental check-ups are ice-breakers, meant to introduce young children to routine dental care. They set young children up for positive experiences when visiting their dentist in the future. Being extra patient and calm will go a long way in sending a message that there is nothing to be worried about or afraid of. Talk to your little one in the days leading up to your appointment about their visit and what to expect. Telling small children how dentists help keep our teeth healthy and strong also relays a comforting, reassuring message.
If your child is already older than one and has not yet been to a dentist or more than six months have passed, this is a good review, now is the perfect time to get that appointment booked.