When to take your child to the dentist for the first time and top tips for healthy teeth
We often get asked by patients, when is it the right time for my child’s first dentist visit?
Each child is different, but we generally advise that the first appointment can occur between the ages of 2 to 3 years old, as by then they usually have most, if not all the first set of teeth. Bringing them in within 6 months of their first tooth appearing is also okay. Your child should see their dentist regularly and understand that visiting them is an important part of growing up.
What to Expect at Your Child’s First Dental Visit
In this first visit the dentist will check to see that their development (mouth, gums and teeth) is normal and detect any potential problems that can be managed before serious conditions occur.
To help you and your child avoid the distress of appointments where potentially traumatic treatments may be needed. Get your child started on the right track for their oral hygiene and dental health.
When Should I Commence their Oral Hygiene Routine?
Good nutrition and oral hygiene can start right away… it is up to you to develop the routines that will help protect your child from tooth decay and other oral health problems. So, don’t delay, see our easy tips below for cavity free kids.
Top Tips for Healthy Teeth for Children
1. Start good oral hygiene habits ASAP for your child
It’s never too early to begin teaching good oral hygiene to your children. Behaviours learnt when they are young tend to stick with them throughout life.
Even having your infant child watching you brushing your teeth, begins the familiarity for them that brushing your teeth is a normal thing to do.
2. Your child’s baby teeth matter
Yes, baby teeth eventually fall out to make way for adult teeth but that doesn’t mean cleaning them isn’t important. Tooth disease in young children has become a major challenge for dentists, who are having to treat younger and younger patients. When baby teeth have decay they need to be removed. This can cause crowding problems when their adult teeth emerge, which means more dental interventions that could have been avoided.
3. Teach your child how to brush their teeth properly
Use a toothpaste appropriate for the age of your child. Ensure your child brushes their teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, which they shouldn’t swallow. Make a game of brushing teeth for at least two minutes at a time. Try using an egg timer to make keeping time fun for your child.
Flossing, with parental assistance until the age of 10 or when they are able to do it themselves, should start as soon as children have two teeth that are in contact with each other.
4. Encourage good eating and drinking habits for your child
To develop strong teeth, your children need a healthy, balanced diet made up of fresh foods such as vegetables, cheese and lean meats, minimal high-sugar foods such as biscuits and muesli bars, and fluoridated tap water. While that may sound like a typical “hipster diet”, your teeth are another good reasons for eating this way; beyond it being fashionable!
Determine if the water supply that serves your home is fluoridated. If it does not, discuss supplement options with your dentist. Keep in mind that toothpastes and various foods can also contain fluoride.
5. Children should avoid sugars
Understand that if your child ingests sugars by eating sweetened foods, it will take the saliva a minimum of 30 minutes to neutralise the acidity that is created by decay-producing bacteria. A sugary snack every hour can mean your child’s mouth is always acidic, increasing the chances for tooth decay.
If you’ve had a chance to watch “That Sugar Film”, then you’ll have some idea of how much hidden sugar there is in everyday foods that can easily catch out the most attentive parent!
6. Make regular dental appointments for your children
Our dentists at Dental Care Professionals recommend that your child see a dentist approximately every 6 months. Children’s teeth can be prone to decay at a faster rate than adults teeth and while you can monitor for it at home; a quick visit to the dentist every 6 months will give you greater peace of mind about your child’s teeth and smile.
7. Keeping calm about your child’s first dental visit
If you feel anxious about a visit to a dental professional, avoid conveying these feelings to your child. This is very important for emotional well-being.
Encourage your child to discuss any fears they might have about visiting a dentist, but don’t put any new fears into their head. It is a good rule of thumb to never mention words like “hurt” or “pain” when talking about a dental visit.
There are lots of “do’s and don’ts” that will help you avoid making trips to the dentists for your child as horrible as they may be for you.
8. Childproof your home to prevent dental injuries
Research has shown that children under age 7 sustain over half of the dental injuries to their primary (baby) teeth playing inside near home furniture.
Accidents can happen and familiarising yourself with “dental first aid” means that you will be well prepared for handling dental trauma correctly.
Did you know your child may be eligible to receive free dental treatment?
The Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) has been extended and children aged between 2-17 years that are eligible can receive up to $1,000 in benefits over two calendar years for basic dental services. That way, your child’s first dental visit doesn’t have to leave you out of pocket. Find out more information about eligibility on the ADA website.
School holidays are the perfect time to book in your child’s clean and check- up, book an appointment today, call 8232 3280.