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  • Writer's pictureJohn Skvorak Jr DMD

When should I make my child's first dental appointment?

Family friendly dentistry - Pear Tree Dentistry - Greater Portland, Westbrook, Maine

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you bring your child to the dentist for their first visit after the eruption of their first tooth and no later than their first birthday.

Your baby's first visit to the dentist is a quick, but very important visit. This visit establishes a "dental home" for your child. A "dental home" is a dental office that you and/or your child are established with and make regular appointments with for routine check ups and cleanings. "Dental homes" are important to establish because your dentist and your hygienist learn about your child and his/her unique needs. It also creates a positive experience for the child by visiting the dentist for the first time when there isn't necessarily a problem that needs to be addressed. It helps your child become comfortable in the dental office by "dipping a toe in the water, before diving into the deep-end," so to speak.

Another reason early dental visits are important is this creates a perfect opportunity for the dentist and hygienist to review healthy habits to start early with your child to avoid oral diseases such as tooth decay. As a parent, you have an opportunity to address any questions or concerns you may have about your child's teeth and oral health.

Prevention is the key to establishing good oral health for a lifetime.

If your child is still less than a year old at their first dental visit the dentist or hygienist will quickly look in their mouth while they are laying in your lap to see how teeth are erupting and make sure there are no evident dental problems. Much of the first visit is a discussion with you about your child's diet in relation to their oral health, techniques for keeping their teeth clean, and exposure to fluoride whether through city water or fluoride supplements and any oral health products that may be helpful for your little one.

If your child is already past a year old and has not been to the dentist yet, it's okay. Often times parents don't realize its recommended to establish your child with a dentist by their first birthday. Just give us a call and we can get them in for a visit.

As your baby grows into a toddler, we start adding different parts into the appointment as they are ready for them. For example, we can start to give them fluoride varnish with your approval, we can start giving them a child cleaning, and start to review with the child how they brush their teeth and have an adult "check" after to make sure they got rid of all the "sugar bugs" from their teeth.

Many children have deep grooves or pits in their teeth that make it nearly impossible for them to clean all the bacteria and sugar off of their teeth with their daily routine. For these children sealants are a great way to prevent cavities and avoid needing fillings.

Establishing your child with a dentist when they are young helps to maintain the health of their smile. Additionally, your child forms a relationship with a dentist and hygienist so, in the case of a dental emergency or problem, you have dentist to call upon.

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