The dentist may seem like a trip that parents of infants should postpone until they have a mouthful of teeth to deal with. The Canadian Dental Association advises, however, that you visit your dentist for a checkup when your child shows signs of getting their first tooth or by the age of 12 months.
The initial visit can help your child learn to become comfortable with their dentist and establish a trusting relationship. A quick check of their teeth and gums will be done. Subsequent visits should be every six months for child dental care, the same as for adults.
3 Reasons to Bring Your Child to The Dentist Early
- Build trust. Showing trust in your dentist can teach your child that visits to the dentist are safe and an important step in the prevention and treatment of problems.
- Check technique. Find out if the teeth cleaning routine at home is working. If spots are being missed, early discovery is key to keeping those teeth healthy!
- Proactive approach. By visiting the dentist every six months, your dentist can be proactive and catch any developing issues early.
Because their protective enamel is thinner than that of permanent teeth, a child's primary (or "baby") teeth are more susceptible to developing early childhood tooth decay. Painful tooth decay can have an adverse effect on your child's general health. Additionally, it may impair their ability to concentrate or learn, as well as their ability to speak, eat, or sleep.
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.
- Do not give bottles to children before naps or bedtime. Try using water instead of milk or juice to prevent decay if you can't avoid it. To help prevent the emergence of orthodontic problems, keep bottle time to five minutes or less.
- 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.