You might not think it is important to take your child to the dentist until they have a mouthful of teeth, however, the Canadian Dental Association recommends visiting your dentist for an assessment at the signs of a first tooth, or by 12 months of age.
Not only does this allow your dentist to assess their teeth and gums to ensure everything is developing as it should, it also allows your child to become comfortable with visiting the dentist. Subsequent visits should be every six months for child dental care, the same as for adults.
3 Reasons to Bring Your Child to The Dentist Early
- It builds trust. Showing trust in your dentist can teach your child that visits to the dentist are safe and an important step in the prevention and treatment of problems.
- You can check your technique. Find out if the teeth cleaning routine at home is working. If spots are being missed, early discovery is key to keeping those teeth healthy!
- Issues can be caught early. By visiting the dentist every six months, your dentist can be proactive and catch any developing issues early.
A child's baby teeth have a thinner layer of protective enamel than adult permanent teeth do, so they are at a heightened risk of developing early childhood tooth decay. Tooth decay can be painful, and cause issues with speaking, chewing, and sleeping. It can also negatively impact your child's overall health and the discomfort caused by tooth problems can affect their ability to focus and learn.
Tips to Encourage Good Dental Care for Your Child
- Begin even before the first tooth appears! Using a clean, damp cloth, wipe your baby’s gums twice a day.
- Avoid offering bottles prior to naps or bedtime. If you do offer a bottle, try using water instead of milk or juice to avoid decay. Limit time with a bottle to five minutes or less to help prevent the development of orthodontic issues.
- Take your child for their first dental visit around 12 months of age or after their first tooth comes in.
- At the first sign of a tooth, brush your child’s teeth daily using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a very small amount of fluoride-free toothpaste until they’re old enough to spit it out (typically around 3 years old).
- Let your child practice brushing by copying you, then finish for them, making sure that all surfaces have been cleaned. Most children do not have the dexterity to properly brush on their own until they are 8 years old.
- Teach your child to brush for two minutes twice a day.
- Replace toothbrushes every few months or when they begin to show signs of wear, such as flattening or bushy bristles.
- Bring your child for regular preventive dental visits. Every six months is optimal, but this may vary depending on your dentist.