BEGIN DENTAL VISITS EARLY
Protect your child’s teeth by starting dental checkups early. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that the first dental visit should occur when the baby’s first tooth appears, but no later than the child’s first birthday.
Why schedule a visit so early? A dentist can show you how to clean your child’s teeth, talk about feeding, oral habits and recommend dental care products. He or she also can help you make sure your child is getting the right amount of fluoride (FLOOR-ide), a natural mineral that protects teeth. And your dentist can answer questions about your baby’s teeth.
Having a well-baby checkup at this age also connects your child to a dental home. This is a place where you can take your child from year to year. This helps the dentist get to know your child’s and family’s needs, so your child will have the best care.
If your child is a toddler, the dentist will gently examine his or her teeth and gums, looking for decay and other problems. The dentist may also clean the child’s teeth. Your toddler can also be checked for problems related to habits such as thumb or finger sucking.
Fluoride treatments and dental sealants are two important ways your dentist can prevent cavities. Dental sealants are a coating that the dentist puts on the grooves of your child’s back teeth to protect them. Your dentist will let you know if these treatments are right for your child.
Preventive care from your dentist can save time, money and teeth. Your dentist will recommend a schedule for your child’s dental visits.
TIPS FOR A POSITIVE DENTAL VISIT
- Schedule your child’s first dental visit before his or her first birthday.
- If possible, schedule a morning appointment when children tend to be rested and cooperative. Don’t schedule during nap time.
- Stay positive. Don’t show any anxiety that you might feel about dental visits.
- Never bribe your child to go to the dentist or use the visit as a punishment or threat.
- Make your child’s dental visit an enjoyable outing. Teaching your child good oral hygiene habits early can lead to a lifetime of good dental health.