Your baby is not born with teeth, and you might wonder why you need to pay so much attention to the milk teeth that are just going to fall out anyway. The truth is that those first little teeth are important, and so is taking good care of them.
When should a child go to the dentist? There are many factors that go into knowing when to make that first appointment, but instilling healthy dental habits at a very young age will serve your child well throughout the rest of their life.
When Should a Child go to the Dentist?
Most dental experts will tell you to see an infant dentist once the first tooth emerges from the gums. However, for some babies, this can be at as early as 4 months, at which point they aren’t quite ready to sit in the dentist’s chair.
Once your little one starts getting teeth, you can talk to your pediatrician about when to see the dentist. The answer to when do babies go to the dentist is as soon as tiny chompers start poking their way out of the gums.
Before the First Birthday
A good rule of thumb is to see the dentist with your baby sometime between the first tooth erupting and your child’s first birthday. At a year old, your baby can likely sit up in the dentist chair and follow simple directions about opening his or her mouth so the dentist can have a look inside.
Those baby teeth will fall out eventually, but it’s vital to take care of them now so that your baby learns good habits and the adult teeth that replace them are as healthy as they can be. That age is a pretty good milestone to stick to.
Eating and Drinking Habits
If by your child’s first birthday they have already transitioned from drinking out of a bottle to drinking out of a sippy cup and they don’t eat snacks or drink anything other than water during the night, you can likely wait to make that first dental appointment until closer to the age of two.
Drinking from a bottle and snacking during the nighttime hours enables food and liquid to sit on your child’s teeth, encouraging bacteria to grow and increasing the risk of developing cavities or other dental problems.
Specific Dental Issues
Of course, if your child sustains any injuries to their teeth, you worry that something is wrong, or they are not getting teeth, it’s a good idea to see the dentist. That way, if there’s a problem, it can be addressed before it becomes a bigger issue. A broken or chipped tooth is something that should be looked at right away, especially if it’s causing your child pain.
All children get teeth at their own pace, but if you have any concerns, a dentist can help put your fears to rest or create an action plan if there is indeed a problem.
Every Six Months
Just like you see your dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning, your child should too. So regardless of the answer to what age should a child go to the dentist for the first time, your little one needs to be in that dentist’s chair every six months.
This enables the dentist to take x-rays, examine the growth and development of their teeth, and give them a good cleaning, which helps the teeth and gums stay healthy. Once you’ve been to that first appointment, you’ll need to schedule them every six months until your child is an adult and makes their own appointments.
Importance of Seeing the Dentist
Yes, those baby teeth will only hang around for about five to seven years, but they play a vital role in the future look and health of your baby’s mouth. Baby teeth help your child smile, speak, chew properly, and hold space in the gums for adult teeth when they’re ready to come in.
Without baby teeth, adult teeth can shift around and grow in the wrong places. This can lead to crooked or crowded teeth that will require intervention when your child is older. Additionally, teaching your child what good dental care looks like sets the stage for their future choices and helps your little one learn to give their smile the tender loving care it needs.
At the First Visit
So you’ve made the first appointment. Now what?
The first visit to the dentist is simply to get your child familiar with the office and its surroundings. Your child will probably sit in the chair and the dentist will have a quick look inside. Then you’ll likely discuss proper oral care for their specific age and learn ways to create a healthy and good looking smile now and as your baby gets older.
This easy first visit helps take some of the fear out of visiting the dentist and introduces your child to the place and what will happen during future appointments. If your little one is fearful, be sure to mention it when you book your time slot so that can be taken into account as you tour the office and see how things work.
The Timing Depends on the Individual
If you’ve been wondering when should a child go to the dentist, it proves that you’ve got what it takes to be an all-star dental care expert for your little one. It is part instinct and part knowledge that will guide you.
Be sure that, in addition to taking your baby to the dentist, you model healthy tooth brushing and flossing at home. This sets the stage for a lifetime of having a healthy and sparkling smile.
Brushin’ on Belmont is here to give you all the advice and care you need for your children’s teeth, no matter their age. Don’t wait to reach out to us if you have any questions!