We understand how you as a parent might think that visiting the dentist seems like a task that is best to be saved for when they have a mouth full of teeth. But, it's recommended by the Canadian Dental Association to bring your child to the dentist for an examination when there are signs that their first tooth is starting to erupt, or by the time they are 12 months old.
The first appointment could help your child become comfortable with their dentist and build a relationship based on trust. At this visit, your dentist will conduct a quick check of their teeth and gums. Follow-up appointments for children should take place approximately every six months, just like adults.
3 Reasons to Take Your Child to The Dentist Early
- Build 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.
- Check 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!
- Proactive approach. By visiting the dentist every six months, your dentist can be proactive and catch any developing issues early.
It’s important to understand that a child’s primary (“baby”) teeth are at risk of developing early childhood tooth decay as their protective enamel is thinner than that of permanent teeth. Tooth decay can be painful, impacting your child’s overall health. It can also trigger issues with sleeping, speaking or eating, as well as their ability to focus or learn.
Tips For Encouraging Good Oral Health Care for Your Child
- Begin even before the first tooth appears! Using a clean, damp cloth, wipe your baby’s gums twice a day.
- Take your child for their first dental visit around 12 months of age.
- Bring your child for regular dental visits. Every six months is optimal, but this may vary depending on your dentist.
- 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).
- Avoid offering bottles prior to naps or bedtime. If you can’t avoid it, 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.
- Teach your child to brush for two minutes twice a day.
- Let your child practice brushing by copying you, then finish for them, making sure that all surfaces have been cleaned. Your child will need help with brushing until they’re about 8 years old.
- Replace toothbrushes every few months or when they begin to show signs of wear, such as flattening or bushy bristles.