Many parents wonder when the best time is to bring their child into the dentist. It’s as simple as this: when their first tooth comes in, they’re due for a check-up! This typically happens between the age range of six months to one year old.
This first dental visit is important for two reasons. For one, it’s a chance for preliminary conversations regarding further teething, pacifier-use, and any other concerns that you may have about your child’s teeth. The other reason the first visit is so important is to set a standard of comfort for your child.
Helping Your Child Feel Comfortable
Aside from a cursory checkup and conversation, your child’s first dental visit will usually never include any major procedures or teeth-cleaning. It’s a chance for them to see the office, meet the dental team, and adapt to what it means to “go to the dentist!”
For this reason, making sure that the first visit is seamless and even fun is of paramount importance. Setting expectations is critical to a smooth first visit. We advise the following tips to enhance your child’s level of comfortability.
- Preface the visit with a story of your own dental experiences, always in a positive light! Tell your child how much you like going to the dentist and tell them about your dentist.
- Do a ‘practice run,’ by pretending that you’re a dentist and counting your child’s teeth.
- Let your child do a practice run on their stuffed animals!
We’ve found that when children have a great and easy first dentist experience, it makes it astronomically easier to get them feeling calm and comfortable on their next dental visit. Since their second or third visit typically entails a cleaning, flossing, or otherwise, their level of comfortability will appease any sense of dis-ease that can come from a more involved dental visit.
Ensuring Tooth Health
It’s important to bring your child into the dentist sooner rather than later to make sure that they aren’t developing cavities or experiencing tooth decay. Tooth decay is the leading chronic childhood illness, and looking for any early signs of this decay is important for prevention or early treatment.
Additionally, your child’s first set of teeth (their “baby teeth”, or primary teeth) influence their adult teeth, too. Tooth health contributes to chewing and speaking, so the primary teeth are just as important as the adult teeth!
Finally, your child’s first dental visit will set the precedent for their overall dental health and hygiene. It’s a great opportunity to check brushing and flossing habits, and get your child on a regular dental visit routine!