As parents of an infant, visiting the dentist may seem a trip best left until there is a mouthful of teeth to contend with. However, the Canadian Dental Association recommends bringing your child to the dentist when you start noticing signs of their first tooth, or by the time they are 12 months old.
The initial visit can help your child learn to become comfortable with their dentist and establish a trusting relationship. A quick check of their teeth and gums will be done. Subsequent visits should be every six months for child dental care, the same as for adults.
3 Reasons Why Should Take Your Child to The Dentist Early
- Build trust. Showing trust in your dentist can teach your child that visits to the dentist are safe and an important step in the prevention and treatment of problems.
- Check technique. Find out if the teeth cleaning routine at home is working. If spots are being missed, early discovery is key to keeping those teeth healthy!
- Proactive approach. By visiting the dentist every six months, your dentist can be proactive and catch any developing issues early.
It’s essential to know that a child’s primary (“baby”) teeth are at risk of developing early childhood tooth decay as their protective enamel is thinner than that of permanent teeth. Tooth decay can be painful, impacting your child’s overall health. It can also trigger issues with sleeping, speaking, or eating, as well as their ability to focus or learn.
Ways To Promote Good Dental Care To Your Child
- Start before the first tooth erupts! With a clean, damp cloth, wipe your baby’s gums twice a day.
- At the first sign of a tooth, brush your child’s teeth daily using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a very small amount of fluoride-free toothpaste until they’re old enough to spit it out (typically around 3 years old).
- Take your child for their first dental visit around 12 months of age.
- Avoid offering bottles prior to naps or bedtime. If you can’t avoid it, try using water instead of milk or juice to avoid decay. Limit time with a bottle to five minutes or less to help prevent the development of orthodontic issues.
- Teach your child to brush for two minutes twice a day.
- Bring your child for regular dental visits. Every six months is optimal, but this may vary depending on your dentist.
- Replace toothbrushes every few months or when they begin to show signs of wear, such as flattening or bushy bristles.
- Let your child practice brushing by copying you, then finish for them, ensuring all surfaces have been cleaned. Your child will need help brushing until they’re about 8 years old.