If you’re responsible for a child, you’ve likely taken them to the doctor plenty and are very aware of their health needs. But are you aware of their dental care needs? Oral health is directly related to the health of the rest of the body and preventative care and regular checkups are important.
When should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?
When your child starts visiting the dentist early in life, it can help them to learn that this is a normal and important part of their regular health care. Once you’ve chosen a dentist for your child – we would recommend either a pediatric or family dentist – contact their office to check their policy on when they see their young patients for the first time. The Canadian Dental Association recommends that all children see a dentist within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth, or by age 1, whichever is earlier. Here at Bow Trail Dental, we like to see your children beginning when they get their first tooth, usually around 6 months of age.
How can I prepare my child for their appointment?
Children of different ages will obviously need different levels of preparation for their first dental visit, but all children need to be prepared in order to have the most positive experience possible. This sets them up for good experiences and healthy oral hygiene in the long run.
Family dentists like ours at Bow Trail Dental know that children have special needs when it comes to dentistry, and we pay special attention to children. We offer them the care they require for a positive and rewarding dental visit.
It might be difficult for you to model positivity about the dentist if you yourself are a nervous patient or dislike your dentist appointments. However, if your child senses that you’re nervous, they may become nervous as well. We recommend that you explain what will happen very calmly and avoid language like “don’t be scared” or “it won’t hurt” (which may make them worry that maybe they should be scared or that some dentists do hurt!). Remember that at their first visit, your child doesn’t have preconceived notions about dentists! Another great resource is the wealth of children’s books published about dentist visits, from board book to Magic School Bus. Reading one of these with your child can help them to relax and get excited about copying the characters in the book by being a good patient.
What should I expect at my child’s dental appointment?
At the time of first tooth appearance, your child should have their first appointment with us. During this appointment, you’ll be in the room with your child, either holding them in the chair on your lap or sitting beside them. Our dentists will examine your child’s mouth, listen to your concerns, and show you how to care for your child’s teeth and check for proper development. This first visit also helps your child get accustomed to coming to us. Around age three, we encourage your child to begin regular checkups and cleanings, possibly including fluoride and/or dental sealants.
Fluoride and Dental Sealants
Fluoride treatment applied topically by a dentist is safe and is an effective deterrent to tooth decay. Because it is applied on the surface of the teeth, rather than ingested, you don’t need to worry about the safety of the treatment. Primary (baby) teeth are very vulnerable to decay, and fluoride can help strengthen the tooth enamel and ward off cavities. Be careful about using fluoride at home, since ingesting fluoride can cause staining on teeth.
Dental sealants are another great way to help prevent tooth decay. We place these clear plastic coatings on the molars, which helps to keep them clear of food particles and bacteria and makes them much easier to clean. Particularly for children, who have a hard time cleaning their teeth thoroughly enough, dental sealants can be important, and they are recommended by the American Dental Association. They are quick and easy to install and a minimum-intervention preventative technique – much nicer than root canals after decay has already happened!
Let us help your child learn the importance of oral health and hygiene from a young age. Dr. Sean Wong and our team look forward to helping you make the best choices for your child’s unique personality.