Your Child's Oral Health and Dental Visit
DR. ANDY SHIH
Your child's first exposure and visit to the dentist is an important one. In reality, the first few visits to the dentist may very well set the building blocks, and may affect the child's attitude towards dental visits for the rest of his/her life.
Here are some quick tips and advice to make sure that your child's first visit is a positive one.
1) Start the proper oral hygiene habits as early as possible
Even before the first baby tooth eruption, parents should be gently brushing and stimulating the gums with specialized dental tools. Establishing this habit early helps parents with the introduction of toothbrushes in the future! Once the first baby tooth erupts, your child already understands the routine of having something in his/her mouth. Whatever the method (i.e. moist gauze or finger-attached brushes), any type of mechanical debridement of plaque will work. As time goes on, introducing an age-appropriate toothbrush and toothpaste will be much easier.
This daily routine requires a tag-team approach. Try the knee-to-knee technique - it is safe and effective. Always remember that it will be a struggle at first, but with persistence, patience, and time, this routine will become normal and more fun!
2) Work together with me - the dentist.
My goal is aligned with your goal: to ensure that every experience is the best possible experience, regardless of the type and complexity of procedure (from the first look appointment, to cleaning & polishing, to dental procedures). As dental professionals, we are trained to use specific vocabulary to make the experience less daunting. For every procedure in the dental chair, I always have a story to engage with your child, and make light of the experience.
If there is one message to convey, remember this: the less you say to your child, before an appointment, the better and easier it is for you, your child, and for me!
Remember: your job is to bring the child to the office, and my job is to do the rest!
3) What's the ideal time for your child's first dental visit?
The earlier the better.
Often times, I will see a child as early as 12 months of age. Since every child's oral development differs, a general rule of thumb is within 6 months of first baby tooth eruption.
The very first visit is kept positive and fun. It gives me an opportunity to assess your child’s oral condition and look for any developmental abnormalities. It also allows me to help parents establish a good oral hygiene routine and diet for the child. Allowing the child to become familiar with the dental environment at an early age will also make appointments much easier down the road.
Lastly, remember that the primary dentition is essential to the long-term health of the adult dentition. Any premature loss of primary teeth can lead to future complications, such as poorly-spaced and tilted adult teeth. A good oral hygiene habit at an early age sets the foundation for life-long good oral health and total health.
If you have any questions related to your child's oral health, I invite you to chat with me.