When should I take my child to the dentist?

Many parents ask me when should I bring my child in for their first appointment. I tell them that most dental organizations recommend the child should come in before their first birthday or within six months of the first teeth erupting.  There are many reasons behind these recommendations.  The first few visits help get the child acclimated to the office and hopefully imprints a pleasant experience before any problems occur.  The child gets used to the sights, sounds, smells and routine of seeing the dentist.  Many first visits are just going along with the parent on his or her visit and sitting on their lap and seeing what they get done.  Sometimes we may look in their mouth and count their teeth.   At subsequent visits we will do more and more such as simple cleanings and fluoride treatments.  Usually X-Rays are not needed until adjacent teeth are touching each other to look for interproximal cavities.

During those initial exams it allows us to check oral hygiene and diet so that each child has the opportunity to properly care for their teeth.  Before the child has the dexterity to properly brush the parent will have to help brush when the child finishes.  I was taught that when the child can color in a coloring book and can stay in the lines you can start to let them brush without helping them.  Along with that before the age of two they usually can’t spit so only a smear of toothpaste can be used to prevent ingesting too much flouride and an upset stomach.  We can also evaluate if the child needs fluoride supplimentation due to lack of flouride in well water or having a high caries risk.  Remember even babies can get cavities especially when they are put to sleep with a bottle with any type of liquid with sugar in it.  The only really safe liquid is water!