As a parent, you may wonder if you should wait until your infant has a mouthful of teeth to visit the dentist. However, the Canadian Dental Association recommends seeing your dentist for an assessment when baby's first tooth comes in, or by 12 months of age.
This initial visit can help your child learn to become comfortable with their dentist and establish a trusting relationship. The dentist will quickly check their teeth and gums. This sets the foundation for subsequent visits, which should take place every six months for a child - the same as for adults.
3 Reasons to Bring Your Child to The Dentist Early
- Build trust. Showing your child that you trust your dentist teaches your child that these visits are a safe, expected and important step in preventing and treating dental issues.
- Check technique. Learn whether the teeth cleaning routine you and your child are practicing at home is working. If spots are being missed, you'll want to know this as early as possible so you can improve and keep those teeth healthy.
- Proactive approach. Visiting the dentist every six months will allow your dentist to take a proactive approach to your dental care, and catch any developing issues early.
A child's primary ("baby") teeth are at risk of developing early childhood tooth decay since the protective enamel is thinner than that on a permanent tooth. Tooth decay can be painful, not to mention have an impact on your child's overall health and trigger issues with speaking, eating or sleeping, in addition to their ability to learn or focus.
Tips to Encourage Good Dental Care for Your Child
- Begin even before the first tooth appears! Using a clean, damp cloth, wipe your baby’s gums twice a day.
- 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.
- Take your child for their first dental visit around 12 months of age.
- 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).
- Let your child practice brushing by copying you, then finish for them, making sure that all surfaces have been cleaned. Your child will need help with brushing until they’re about 8 years old.
- Teach your child to brush for two minutes twice a day.
- Replace toothbrushes every few months or when they begin to show signs of wear, such as flattening or bushy bristles.
- Bring your child for regular dental visits. Every six months is optimal, but this may vary depending on your dentist.