When should I take my child to the dentist? If you are asking this question then first know that you are not alone. Most parents are not sure about the correct time to schedule their child’s first dentist appointment. Should your child wait and go after the first tooth comes in? Or is it better to wait until after all their baby teeth come in?
According to the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, your child’s first scheduled dental visit should occur within six months of the first tooth erupting, but no later than age two.
“If my child only has a few teeth, why the need to go so early?” This is a very common question parents also ask.
A child’s first appointment is generally more about introducing them to the dental office and dentist, and learning about the importance of taking care of their teeth. Typically your dentist will not do an actual exam on the first visit. They may peek inside your child’s mouth so they can make sure the teeth are coming in properly and there are no major issues, but generally, this visit is more about building trust and awareness.
Establishing trust and building a relationship with the dentist often helps the child overcome dental fears later on and can even help avoid dental anxieties altogether.
What Happens After a Child’s First Dental Visit?
After your child’s first visit, it is highly recommended that they visit the dentist every six months, unless the dentist sees a reason to come more often.
Once your child is ready for their second visit, this is where your dentist will begin to work on your child’s teeth. Typically, the second dentist visit will include counting the child’s teeth and brushing and polishing them.
When Does My Child Receive Full Dental Exams?
By the age of 3, your child will begin receiving full dental exams. As previously mentioned, they may begin fluoride treatments. They also will learn the importance of flossing and brushing their teeth thoroughly. Here, parents are typically asked to participate so they can help their child properly brush at home. The dentist will also show parents how to help floss a child’s teeth in addition to teaching them helpful techniques to ensure a child brushes thoroughly.
Dentists recommend that your child brushes their teeth for at least two minutes twice a day. Your dentist may recommend a toothbrush that has a built-in timer or light that flashes when done. Or, they may recommend some fun songs and games you can play with your child to help them reach their two-minute goal.
By age 5 your child will be old enough to receive X-rays.
Our Advice for All Parents
Don’t be hesitant to bring your child to the dentist, even if you feel they are a bit young.
The best way to ease fear and anxiety about the dentist is to get your child comfortable with the dentist as early as possible. Bring them along to one of your de
ntal exams and get them started with their own appointments at a young age.
If your child popped that first tooth and is ready to visit the dentist for the first time, let us help start you and your child down the path of good oral health. Schedule an appointment at any one of our 14 Chicagoland locations.