After anxiously awaiting the arrival of your baby’s first teeth (and making it through that horrible teething period), she seems to suddenly have a mouthful and turned into a toddler before your eyes. Knowing when you should take a toddler to the dentist is a vital aspect of your child’s healthcare.
No parent instinctively knows just how crucial an early visit to the dentist is for a toddler. In fact, some people misunderstand the importance of primary teeth altogether. Just because those baby teeth are not permanent does not mean they are not important! Primary teeth help your toddler chew and refine their speech. Unhealthy baby teeth with lots of cavities can still make your child self conscious about their gorgeous smile, not to mention that tooth pain hurts — no matter how old you are! Additionally, neglecting baby teeth can translate into poor oral health over time. Primary teeth are absolutely as important as permanent teeth.
Once you have gotten through the first dental checkup, your toddler should visit the dentist just as often as an adult — every six months. Not only does this ensure healthy teeth and a lifetime of good oral care habits, but the dentist is also less frightening (and less painful) for a child who gets regular checkups and cleanings. Regular checkups are how to keep teeth healthy.
When to Take a Toddler to the Dentist
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends your child visit a family dentist around the time of their first birthday. This can vary by a few months depending on when his first tooth comes in. Experts suggest taking a toddler to the dentist within six months of the eruption of his first teeth.
Most kids get their first tooth around six months, putting them right at the twelve-month mark. Not every child is the same, of course. If that first tooth arrives much earlier than six months, you should schedule a visit within six months of that. Children who do not develop teeth until much later should still visit the dentist around their first birthday.
Preparing a Toddler for the Dentist
When you take a toddler to the dentist for the first time, that visit plays a crucial role in introducing your toddler to the dental environment, the tools a dentist uses, and the language surrounding oral health. Again, early visits set the scene for healthy teeth as they grow up. Many family dentists will take the time to make sure both of you know the best ways to care for your child’s teeth.
Use the first visit to prepare both you and your toddler for dental procedures in general (just having a stranger stick their fingers in the child’s mouth can be alarming) and to get used to the dentist in particular. A first visit that is not painful or threatening will prepare your toddler for a lifetime of viewing dental appointments that are not overwhelmingly anxiety-provoking.
Ways to prepare your toddler for the dentist include:
Preparing yourself is equally important. If you are quite anxious during the visit, your child will pick up on it and mirror those emotions back at you. If you harbor your own fears, make sure to monitor the language you use to discuss the visit with or in front of your toddler. If you have any questions, make a list to discuss with your family dentist.
What to Expect from Your Toddler’s First Dental Checkup
Your child’s first visit to the dentist is likely to be quick. Unless you have questions or have noticed a problem, it will probably consist of a hygienist brushing their teeth and showing them the instruments; the dentist will take a quick look to make sure nothing major is happening.
However, the first visit sets the precedent for your toddler’s perception of dental appointments. Make an effort to make the visit fun. Rewards like a sticker or trip to the park afterward can cement a positive impression.
Despite the ease and quickness of the appointment, your toddler may get a little worked up over having someone sticking their fingers in her mouth. Stay calm, speak soothingly, and praise her when each part of the visit is finished. For example, after her teeth are brushed, you might say, “Hooray! You did such a great job learning how to keep your teeth healthy!”
Family Dentist Versus Dentist for Kids
Choosing the type of dentist you prefer your child to see is a very individual decision. Either of these specialty dentists will make sure you know how often to brush (twice a day), how much toothpaste to use (a grain of rice), and explain any complications they notice. Both types of dentists should have plenty of practice being patient with toddlers and focus on teaching both parent and child the best ways to build a basis for how to keep teeth healthy from a young age.
Deciding on a dentist depends largely on whether you prefer to bring your whole family to one easy location or to bring your child to a dentist who works specifically with kids. Pediatric dentists often have very kid-friendly offices with a fun atmosphere. Everything they do is geared toward making it easy to work on children. Family dentists often have different specialists under one roof: a pediatric dentist, a general dentist, an orthodontist, and special services like cosmetic and sedation dentistry. Regardless, if you do not like the way the dentist interacts with your child, look for an alternative that makes you and your toddler feel comfortable.
Dentist with Payment Plans Near Me in North Little Rock, AR
If you do not have dental insurance, dental services can really add up. To keep teeth healthy, experts recommend your entire family visit the dentist every six months. If anyone needs significant work, costs can add up. Visiting a dentist with payment plans can make getting good oral care easier.
For More Information
Do you have more questions about when to take a toddler to the dentist? Need help figuring out how to keep your toddler’s teeth healthy? Ready to schedule that first appointment? Contact Dean Dental Solutions online or call us today at (501)271-3862! Let us give your child the tools they need to maintain a bright, white smile.