A 2009 Delta Dental Plans Association survey found that the majority of American children aren’t taken for their first dental visit until well beyond the age of two. While this may seem young, it’s actually much later than the age recommended by today’s healthcare professionals. For example, both The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Dental Association (ADA) recommend that children should begin visiting the dentist within six months of their first tooth eruption, or by the age of one—whichever comes first. This is why choosing a comfort-focused, family-oriented dentist can be beneficial.
The AAPD reminds parents that primary or “baby” teeth serve many important functions for a developing child. These functions include:
For these reasons, the AAPD maintains that it’s crucial to keep primary teeth healthy until they fall out naturally.
When parents take their child to the dentist at the first sign of primary tooth eruption, that child is often far too young to feel anxious or afraid. This gives oral healthcare professionals a chance to shape a positive office experience immediately, and as the child gets older. At the same time, these early dental visits are the perfect chance for parents to learn about properly caring for a very young child’s teeth and gums.
What are some smart ways to prepare children for the unique sights and sounds they may encounter when visiting the dentist? Try checking out informative online resources and children’s books on the subject. Make a game of counting one another’s teeth, so kids become accustomed to having their mouths examined. Choose an ADA-affiliated dentist who is skilled at working with patients of all ages. Finally, make sure kids are well rested on the day of their visit, to help instill a sense of comfort and relaxation.