A lifetime of good oral health starts at a young age. Primary teeth begin forming in the womb, though they do not make an appearance until several months after birth. Despite a young child’s gummy smile, rapid growth and development leads to many changes to the teeth and gums during the early years. Early dental care is essential for preventing decay and other oral health problems as soon as possible.
Your Child’s First Dental Visit
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, parents should bring their children to the dentist after the first tooth erupts from the gums, but no later than after a child’s first birthday. After that time, additional dental visits should be scheduled twice yearly and continued throughout childhood. The dentist will examine your child’s teeth and gums during the first appointment and check for signs of baby bottle decay. Depending on your child’s age, the dentist may clean and polish your child’s teeth and apply a fluoride treatment.
Why Visit the Dentist at an Early Age?
Early dental visits serve several purposes, but they are primarily meant to help children become comfortable with the dental chair. Many children become apprehensive about visiting the dentist when parents wait to schedule a first visit. Whether a child is intimidated by the atmosphere of a dental office or simply associates these visits with visiting a doctor, parents can prevent childhood dental anxiety by scheduling oral care appointments as early as possible.
Early dental check-ups are also helpful for educating parents about proper oral care. Children have 20 primary teeth by the age of 2 1⁄2, which serve as place-holders for the permanent teeth. Even though they will eventually fall out, ‘baby teeth’ serve many important purposes for young children, helping with chewing and speech development. Early dental care can help prevent tooth decay in babies, toddlers and young children, which in turn can also lower the risk of tooth decay as an adult.
Making the Most of Your Visit
There are several ways you can make the most of your child’s first visit to the dentist. Start by making a list of questions you have about your child’s teeth and how you can best care for them between dental visits. Depending on your child’s age, you may be able to ease tensions on the first visit by explaining what your child can expect during the visit and by visiting the dental office prior to the first appointment.
If you live in or around the Jacksonville, Florida area and have a child who has not yet visited a dentist for the first time, now is the time to schedule a first appointment. Contact our office here at Lane Avenue Family Dentistry to find out more about first dental appointments and schedule your child’s visit today. We look forward to serving you soon.