The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child goes to the dentist by age 1 or within six months after the first tooth erupts. Primary teeth typically begin growing in around 6 months of age. Most children do not visit a dentist until they are well over the age of 2. This is far later than recommended by both dental and medical professionals. Frequently mentioned reasons were that “the child is too young” or “doesn’t have enough teeth yet”.

Importance of primary teeth not recognized

Did you know? The primary teeth are important for many reasons including:

  • Helping children chew properly to maintain good nutrition.
  • Involvement in speech development.
  • Helping save space for permanent teeth.
  • Promoting a healthy smile that helps children feel good about the way they look.

Majority of people do not understand the importance of how their children’s baby teeth. It actually contributes to their lifelong oral health, and there is a continuing need for more education on proper brushing and flossing technique that will ensure lifelong oral health. The first dentist visit is a great opportunity to not only expose children to the importance of maintaining good oral health but also for parents to learn how to best care for their children’s teeth.

Calming dental visit jitters

Dental visits are often associated with the whirring machinery, sharp instruments and possibly a stranger with a mask asking your child to “open your mouth”. The tricky part about children’s dental visit is the timing. If they were brought to the dentist at the time the first tooth erupts, then they are probably too young to be nervous, but if your child is older, then he or she may have some anxiety at the time of their first visit.

  • Give your child a sneak preview.Take your child with you for your next checkup to see you having your teeth examined and cleaned.
  • Learn more about it.Lots of books and online resources are geared toward teaching children more about dental health and dentist visits. Some website even has stories and fun activities to help children learn about their teeth.
  • Play around.Take turns being the dentist and the patient with your child. Examine each other’s teeth with a mirror or use your fingers to count each other’s teeth so that your child will be familiar with the feel of a dentist examination.
  • Timing is everything.Plan plenty of time so that the dental visit isn’t rushed, and make sure your child is well-rested before the visit so that he or she feels relaxed and comfortable.
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Beverly Wilshire Dental

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