It’s easy to assume that until your child has a full set of teeth that there is no need to see the dentist. The reality is dentistry isn’t just about teeth! It’s about gums, lips, and the inside of the mouth. At each and every visit, whether it is for you or your child, your dentist will be checking the entire mouth in their preventative checks, so it’s silly to wait too long between visits.
When to see the dentist
As a rule of thumb, it is time for a dental visit when your baby’s first tooth becomes visible or they reach 12 months old – whichever comes first. If you notice anything you think is out of the ordinary before this time it’s better to be safe than sorry, so book an appointment straight away. The earlier your child visits the dentist the better. Prevention is better than cure and early dental visits will help protect your child from tooth decay.
What happens at your child’s first dental appointment?
Depending on your child’s age, the visit may include a full exam of the teeth, jaws, bite, gums and oral tissues to check growth and development. If needed, your child may also have a gentle cleaning. This includes polishing teeth and removing any plaque, tartar and stains.
Your dentist may discuss:
• Brushing techniques
• Bite (how your child’s teeth will come together)
• Soft tissues such as gums and cheeks
• Habits such as thumb sucking
• Risk of decay and how to prevent it
• Prevention of trauma to your child’s mouth
• Nutritional advice
The ADA (Australian Dental Association) has published a list of things
to avoid when preparing your child for their first dental visit.
THE 5 DON’TS OF DENTAL VISITS
1. Don’t tell your child to be brave (they already are)
2. Don’t bribe your child
3. Don’t tell your child that it won’t hurt (or it will)
4. Don’t use the dentist as a deterrent or punishment
5. Don’t be anxious yourself
This first visit accomplishes three things. First, it familiarizes your child with the staff and the office environment in a non-threatening way, thus building trust. Second, it introduces him (and you) to the specific language that the clinic may use. For example, the drill/hand piece can be referred to as a "tooth sweeper" to take away the fear often associated with these items. Third, it allows the dentist to do a quick examination, looking for decay. He/She will also check your child's gums, jaw, and bite, keeping an eye out for bottle caries, frenum issues or other problems that may affect teeth or speech patterns.
The dentist will also probably talk to you about good oral hygiene and allow you to ask any questions you may have. You may even want to bring a list of questions to the appointment.
From the first visit onward, Ashfield Dental Centre recommends that children come in every six months, unless an issue comes up that need’s correction, such as a lisp, teeth grinding or mouth breathing. Expect the dentist to build on your child’s first visit and add a step at each subsequent visit. E.g. if cleaning and polishing wasn’t done in your child’s first appointment, they may add this at the next visit.
- TELL THEM WHAT TO EXPECT
- BE HONEST AND UNDERSTANDING
- EXPLAIN THAT DENTISTS ARE THE "GOOD GUYS" OR "DENTAL HEROES"
- MAKE IT EXCITING!
- BE THERE AT THE APPOINTMENT WITH YOUR CHILD