Children and Infants - When to Visit the Dentist
Dental Checkups for Children
Many parents assume that a trip to the dentist is a waste of time and money when their child has only one or two teeth. The American Dental Association disagrees; according to this organization, children should see a family dentist within six months of the appearance of their first tooth, or by their first birthday, whichever comes first. An early dental checkup allows the dentist to check that your infant's tooth development is normal. The dentist will check the spacing and placement of early teeth
Your child's first dental appointment is also an opportunity for you to get advice about cleaning and caring for your child's first teeth. According to the American Dental Association, around 20 percent of kids have nursing caries, which develop due to bad feeding habits, such as using a bottle at night. Your family dentist can tell you whether your child is at risk of these early childhood cavities and give you advice about lifestyle changes you can make to avoid them. Parents need to clean their children's teeth as soon as they erupt, but many parents find it difficult to persuade their toddlers to take part in daily brushing. Your family dentist can give teeth cleaning tips for toddlers that might help.
How to Help Children Avoid Fear of the Dentist
Going to the dentist doesn't have to be scary. Choose a family dentist who has a friendly demeanor and an ability to put your child at ease. Positive early experiences of the dentist can help to build a positive association in your child's mind, so that dental checkups in the future won't be a source of fear. Even before your child has teeth, it is a good idea to take him or her with you to the dentist when you attend your dental checkups, so that he or she gets used to being in that environment.
Parents can also help their children to cope with dental visits by using positive words to describe the experience. Avoid using negative words, such as "hurt" or "pain," which could build up a sense of dread in your child. Instead, speak about going to meet the family dentist as a fun activity that will help the child to have healthy teeth.
Why Dentist Visits Matter for Toddlers
Although toddlers' teeth are not permanent and will eventually be replaced with adult teeth, it is still important to take action to prevent cavities and decay. Plaque that builds up on baby teeth can increase the risk of gum disease. In addition, cavities in baby teeth can be extremely painful. Help your child to avoid the pain of early childhood cavities by taking your child to the dentist for regular dental checkups.