Pediatric Dentistry: When Should Your Child First Visit The Dentist?

3 min read

By Dr. Janani Rangaswamy, MDS-Paediatric Dentist, Growing Smiles, Bengaluru

While the modern countries may claim a reduction in tooth cavities, developing countries such as India still face an uphill task. So what can be an efficient step in bringing down the numbers?

Taking care of kids’ oral health care is a valuable foundational step in an attempt to strike at the root of the problem. 

dentist treating a kid

Your Child’s First Visit to the Pediatric Dentist:

Pediatric dentists and the AAPD Foundation (America’s Pediatric Dentists) recommend that parents take the child to visit a pediatric dentist before he or she turns 1 year old. This means that the child visits the dentist 6 months before the first set of tooth erupts. 

It is common for parents to ask why dentists suggest that children have their first dental appointment at an early age. Most of the baby’s 20 milk teeth will be grown by the age of one and a half years. So seeing a dentist in the first year of a baby would help to identify any potential risks of cavities, tooth decays or other issues at an early age. In case of any likely issues, preventive measures can stop it from further build-up. Parents get properly educated on the best practices to care for their children’s teeth. Also, children can experience what the dental visit is all about. This, in turn, will dispel all worry and fear in them as they grow older.

Pediatric Dentists at Growing Smiles and AAPD suggest that every child sees a Pediatric Dentist and not any other general dentists. This is because pediatric dentists are specially trained not only to handle a child’s dental needs, but also to treat the child in a friendly manner that makes them feel comfortable and at ease. In order to handle the emotional and psychological needs of the child, pediatric dentists often devise special methods and techniques that help them communicate effectively and in a friendly manner. A bad experience can however leave the child scarred and afraid of visiting a dental clinic for the rest of their lives. Hence it is imperative that a child sees a specially trained pediatric dentist.

dentist with a kid

So what can you expect when you visit a pediatric dentist that early or during your child’s first dental checkup?

  • Understand your child’s overall growth and development pattern as it may vary from child to child
  • The teething pattern
  • Safe feeding practices for your infant
  • Understand the impact of “nursing bottle decay”
  • Guiding  you on the nutritious food that helps in child’s oral health
  • How to maintain your kids’ oral hygiene with the use of pacifiers?
  • How to prevent  cavities
  • Educate you on oral habits like thumb sucking
  • Guidance on injury prevention

dentist treating a kid in clinic

Here are Certain Tips Before You Visit the Dentist:

  • Try to schedule morning appointments so young children are fresh.
  • If the child is older, the parent can explain the importance of good oral hygiene and how it can have an impact throughout their lives. This enables the child to understand how he or she can be benefitted from the pediatric dental visit.
  • Parents need to give moral support to the child by staying calm before & during the visit.  Children tend to pick up habits from their parents and you certainly don’t want the child to pick up feelings of anxiety for you.
  • Take a prior appointment with the dentist and indicate to them the reason for your visit.
  • As parents or guardians, you need to have a clear mind before you take your child to a dentist. Speak to the dentist over the phone beforehand to discuss any questions or concerns. It is generally not a good practice to ask a dentist difficult questions in front of the child.

Remember, the sooner you start the better as this will help prevent any dental problems, thus ensuring there are no emergency situations. Moreover, the child will also get used to seeing a pediatric dentist early in life. 

Dr. Janani Rangaswamy, MDS-Paediatric Dentist, Growing Smiles, Bengaluru

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