Visiting the Dentist for the First Time
It is important that early trips to the dentist are exciting and pleasurable experiences for young children. Positive experiences will make it more likely that a child will be comfortable seeing their dentist for the rest of his or her life. Talk to your children about upcoming dental visits and
answer any questions they may have.
It is important to choose the right dentist to care for your child’s teeth. It is true that all dentists are qualified to care for a child’s oral health. However, a pediatric dentist is skilled in working with children and their needs in particular. Being accustomed to squirming and being able to make a child feel more comfortable during their visit are also benefits of using a pediatric dentist.
What to Expect
By the time they turn three, most children have had all 20 of their “baby teeth” erupt. While they are born with these teeth, they won’t start to appear until several months after they are born. These teeth will eventually fall out (usually starting around six years of age), but are susceptible to decay and damage and should be cared for as diligently as permanent teeth.
Your pediatric dentist will inspect these baby teeth for cavities and decay, and ensure that the teeth and jaws are developing and erupting normally. A schedule will be worked out by your dental provider for future visits as your child grows.
Parents will be instructed on how to best help with proper home care. You will be warned of common habits that could cause early decay or other problems. Some of these activities include:
- Extensive use of pacifier
- Thumb sucking
- Sending children to bed with a bottle or sugary drink
- Using fluoridated toothpaste before age two
Caring for a Child’s Teeth between Office Visits
Visiting the dentist on a regular basis is not enough to protect a child’s oral health. At-home dental care is imperative, not only to keep away disease and decay, but to instill lifelong good habits. Even before teeth erupt in a child’s mouth, the gums should be gently washed each day. Brushing twice daily should start once the teeth break through the gums. You may use water instead of toothpaste for this in the early days. As your child ages, you can begin using children’s toothpaste as recommended by Dr. Karanth.