One of the most commonly asked questions from parents of very young children is, “When do I need to bring my child for their first dental appointment?” Parents are often surprised to hear that the recommendation is that children see a dentist within 6 months of getting their first tooth. There are several reasons behind this recommendation.
Just as it’s important early in a baby’s life to establish a trusting relationship with a pediatrician, it’s important to find a pediatric dentist. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry promotes the “First Visit by the First Birthday” policy. As soon as a baby gets teeth, those teeth need to be cared for! Seeing a dentist early on will ensure that new parents have the information necessary to begin caring for these very important new teeth. The dentist can answer any questions you have regarding dental care for your baby. Believe it or not, baby teeth can develop tooth decay, so establishing habits for prevention of tooth decay is very important for you and your baby.
Establishing twice-yearly dental visits can go a long way towards putting your child at ease in a dental office. If you can provide your child with positive experiences early on you can prevent them from having anxiety associated with going to the dentist. Developing trust is a vital part of the dentist-patient relationship.
As careful as we are as parents, it’s sometimes just a matter of time before a young child can experience some sort of trauma. These slips and falls can often involve the mouth. As with any emergency, its important to assess the nature of the trauma and decide if a visit to the emergency room is required. If there is damage to the mouth area, and you have already become a patient at a pediatric dental office, you have a Dental Home to take your child to for assessment, even if the accident occurs outside of normal office hours. Imagine how much easier this process is if you already have a dentist that you and your child know and trust.
The bottom line is that by making the establishment of a Dental Home a priority early in your child’s life, you are setting the stage for a great relationship between your child and their dentist. As a result you are setting the stage for great oral health care for your child!