According to Stephanie Goodson, M.D., a pediatrician at Michigan University, the first visit to the pediatric dentist should take place earlier than you think. She says, “A visit should take place by their first birthday, or six months after the first tooth becomes visible — whichever is earlier.”
Most parents don’t take their children to a pediatric dentist till they are over 2 years old. The average age of a child during his first visit to the pediatric dentist is 2.6 years. This is far later than what medical professionals recommend.
The ideal age is 1 year or within 6 months after the baby’s first tooth comes out.
Why should you consult a pediatric dentist?
Most parents believe that the right age to consult a pediatric dentist is 4 years or older, which is completely a wrong notion. According to the pediatric dentists, most dental problems could already have developed by that time. That is why you should take your child to the pediatric dentist after he/she celebrates his first birthday.
Reasons to consult a pediatric dentist early
The first visit is not for beginning any dental treatment. It’s about getting your child familiar with the dentist’s chamber. It’s for breaking the ice. Let your child explore all the instruments. Let him get comfortable with the dentist and play in the chamber. In the meantime, you can get a handful tips on how to take care of your baby’s teeth. The dentist can also suggest you the names of good toothpaste and mouthwash.
Some other reasons to take your child for the first visit to the pediatric dentist are given below:
1. Learning good dental habits: One of the reasons why many adults have to do dental bleaching or polishing is because they don’t follow good oral habits. People should start practicing good oral habits right from their childhood. A pediatric dentist not only gives toys and stickers to infants but also teaches good oral habits. For instance, the dentist can explain a child beautifully why it’s important to brush teeth twice a day.
2. Cleaning teeth carefully: The dentist will clean and polish your child’s teeth with a rotary toothbrush. To put your child at ease, the dentist will give him a sunglass. It will help to safeguard his eyes in case an instrument slips or toothpaste sprays. Let your baby see the brush and hold it if he wants to do so. The logic is, when the baby watches or hold the toothbrush, he becomes comfortable and allows the pediatric dentist to do his job.
3. Avoiding trouble in the future: Infants need special dental care and treatment. It’s true that they don’t need dental implants or dental scaling at this age. But the early signs of decay and discoloration start with the child’s first baby tooth. The dentist has to inspect the teeth carefully as infants can’t be given typical sedation for dental treatment.
A family doctor can do the initial assessment. But he doesn’t have the training to identify the symptoms of early decay. He can’t suggest the preventive measures to stop the dental diseases from aggravating. Often, a tartar develops at an early age due to the child’s diet. The pediatric dentist can create a diet chart to make teeth and gums strong.
A special ‘tooth wisdom’ for you
Depending on the pediatric dentist and your baby’s comfort level, you may have to keep him in your lap or sit outside the chamber. Don’t get scared if you’re asked to wait outside the chamber. Your baby will gain a sense of confidence and get an opportunity to interact with the dentist. It will help to create a bond between the dentist and your baby.
If your baby has shifted from a feeding bottle to a cup or doesn’t drink at midnight, then you can consider taking him/her to the pediatric dentist. Usually, when your child is 4 or 6 years old, the dentist will check if he/she has cavities lurking between the teeth.