Believe it or not, 27% of children between the ages of 2 and 5 have tooth decay.
When a child experiences dental health issues during these early years, they’re more likely to have more problems later on in life. Because of this, you must take your child to the dentist regularly.
But what age should a child go to the dentist for the first time? And how often should they go? There’s a lot that you have to know as a new parent and some of the information may surprise you.
Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know.
What Age Should a Child Go to the Dentist?
There are two recommendations for when you should take your child to the dentist for the first time. First, you should take them to the dentist six months after their first tooth becomes visible. Or, you should take them by the time their first birthday comes around.
Whichever of these events comes first is the one you should follow. There are many parents out there who don’t take their children to the dentist for the first time until they turn 4 years old. If you wait that long, tooth decay could have already developed in your child’s mouth.
Dental disease is one of the most common chronic diseases in children. Unfortunately, many people out there don’t see it as a serious issue. When it comes to your child’s dental health, however, it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry.
Important Things to Know About Child Dental Care
Dentophobia, or fear of the dentist, is a phobia that affects many adults and children. By exposing your child to dental care early, and showing them the positive effects that dentists can have, you can better ensure that your child will have good dental health for many years to come.
During early dental exams, many children simply sit on their parent’s lap during the process. This helps to keep them comfortable and even enjoy the exam.
Also, dentists usually have a lot of positive rewards to give children. This includes stickers and toys as well as fun toothbrushes, dental floss, and toothpaste.
Pediatricians Can Also Address Dental Health
Your child’s primary care physician should be able to address basic dental issues. Many pediatricians can apply protective fluoride varnishes to a child’s teeth once they get to be around 9 months old. Doctors are also a great place to ask for referrals to a dental office that is infant-friendly.
Early Dental Visits Are Extremely Important
Risks for discoloration and decay start with your child’s first baby tooth. That’s why it’s so important that your child’s dentist keeps a close watch from the very start. Infants who suffer from dental disease can get the standard in-office sedation that older kids and adults can.
When young children need to have a few cavities corrected, they often end up under general anesthesia in the operating room.
Home Dental Care Is Also Extremely Important
Your child should be getting teeth brushed as soon as the teeth start coming in. Dentists recommend that after turning 6 months old, a child should start using toothpaste with fluoride in it. It’s also important that your young child doesn’t fall asleep with a bottle or drink sugary beverages.
To prevent tooth decay in your baby, you should massage and clean the baby’s gums once a day. This will aid in teething and help to establish healthy teeth.
You can do this by moistening a washcloth or gauze square and wrapping it around your finger. Then, gently massage the gingival tissues and gums.
Before your child can spit, you should only use a non-fluoride toothpaste. However, once they’re able to spit, that’s when you can switch to fluoride.
Don’t Wait to Get Dental Insurance for Your Child
As soon as your child’s first tooth starts showing, you should enroll your child in a dental plan. Some insurance plans for families might have a limited window for their enrollment period. Be wary of this as it could delay the start of care.
It also could take some time for you to book an appointment with a preferred dentist.
The First Visit
This first visit with the dentist can significantly help your child become comfortable with the idea of going to the dentist. The visit usually lasts around 45 minutes and can include a variety of things.
Depending on the age of the child, the visit may include a full exam of the jaws, gums, teeth, bite, and oral tissues. Your child might also get a gentle cleaning. Since baby teeth will fall out, X-rays are rarely done at early visits.
However, an X-ray may be able to diagnose tooth decay. All in all, a child’s first visit to the dentist should be a pleasant experience.
And after that visit, just like for adults, you should take your child to see the dentist every six months.
The Importance of Knowing When to Take Your Child to the Dentist
Even before you have to take your child to the dentist for the first time, it’s important to know where you plan to take them. By being as prepared as possible, and knowing the answer to “what age should a child go to the dentist?”, you can help ensure that your child has a solid foundation for a healthy mouth.
Are you interested in reading other helpful articles? Check out the rest of our blog today!