When should I take my child to the dentist?
We should take our children to the dentist when their first tooth becomes visible, or when they are 12 months of age (whichever comes first). This is for many reasons, including getting them familiar with the dental setting and to try and build positive experiences and relationships between the dentist and your child.
We wish that all first visits to the dentist were not associated with fear or needing treatment.
Unfortunately, accidents do happen. Teeth do chip, break, and become decayed. So if you can put yourself in your child's shoes, the pain and fear that they would be experiencing when that accident happens or decay appears, is made much worse if they are also going to a place that they have never been before. Being told to open their mouths by a stranger, smelling unfamiliar smells, hearing funny noises. It can be all too overwhelming for everybody, but especially our little ones.
First visits to the dentist would usually include a ride in the dentist chair, and introduction to some of the things that they might see when they visit, and maybe even a sticker or a show bag for them to take home!
Depending on the age and personality of the child, and whether any treatment is needed, the dentist may let them practice using the mouth rinse, listen to the suction, and perhaps even clean their teeth. The dentist can talk to your child about brushing their teeth, showing them how to do it properly, and how often.
This is also a good chance for the dentist to see how your child's mouth is developing, whether there may be an indication of crowding issues in future or enamel deficiency, and also to look for any changes to their soft tissues which may be different to what we would expect to see.
If you are not comfortable to bring your child to the dentist yet, you can also bring them along to somebody else's appointment - whether it be yourself, an older sibling or a grandparent (covid restrictions allowing of course). Just remember that we are trying to develop positive relationships, so if that person is requiring treatment or is a little anxious themselves, it is best to wait until there is a better time to introduce them.
And lastly, dentists are people too!
We all have different approaches and personalities. If you find that your dentist and child are not compatible, please don't give up! There are many of us out there, and there is bound to be someone who you, and your child, will feel comfortable with.