You should take your child to visit the dentist around their first birthday. The general rule is that six months after the first tooth erupts, you should take your child to a pediatric or family dentist. By taking your child to the dentist at a young age, you can help prevent problems like tooth decay, and learn the best ways to clean your child's teeth and enforce good oral habits.
As soon as teeth appear, they are susceptible to tooth decay. Bringing your child to the dentist beginning at an early age will help make them comfortable to the surroundings and reduce anxiety associated with visiting the dentist. This will help ensure stress-free visits in your child's later years.
Proper Oral Care Begins at Home
While you do not have to bring your child to the dentist until he or she is 1 year old, proper dental care begins at home. Even though you can not see your infant's teeth, they have begun forming during the second trimester. At the time of birth, your newborn has 20 primary teeth developing in their jawbone.
You can clean your infant's teeth by running a damp washcloth over their gums to prevent an accumulation of bacteria. When one or more teeth erupt, you can begin brushing them with a soft toothbrush or by rubbing them with gauze after meals and before bedtime. Do not allow your baby to sleep with a bottle in his or her mouth, as the sugars sit on their tooth enable and can begin eroding it. Also arrange a time for feeding, because sucking on a bottle all day can be just as damaging.
You may decide to take your child to a pediatric dentist who specializes in treating children. These specialty dentists are trained in identifying and addressing a number of kid's oral health issues. Pediatric dentists focus on:
Your Child's First Visit
Before the appointment, ask your dentist what procedures to expect and consider how your child may react. Young children are often fussy and struggle to sit still. Tell your child what to expect, and try to instill excitement in them, so that it can be the most positive experience possible.
Many first visits are scheduled simply to introduce your child to the dentist. If your child is scared or uncomfortable, you may need to reschedule. As a parent, it is your job to help your child stay calm and cooperative. Brief, consecutive visits are designed to build your child's trust with the dental professional, which is important if treatment is required later on.
What Happens at the First Visit
If your child cooperates, the first visit can include:
Your dentist will answer any questions you or you child have, and should strive to provide a relaxed environment for your child. Like adults, children visit a dentist for a routine checkup every six months. Sometimes three-month checkups are scheduled at first to build the relationship between dentist and child.
If you are interesting in scheduling an appointment for your child, or would like to learn more, please visit the website for Michael K. Chung, D.D.S. at Softouch Dental Care (www.softouchdentalcare.com) in Oakton, Virginia, serving patients in Oakton, Tysons Corner, Reston, Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington, Washington D.C. and the Northern Virginia area.