What age should kids first visit the dentist?
Questions. If you are a new mum or dad, you are faced with a lot of them! While we can’t give you the magic answer to a good night’s sleep, we can answer this one: what age should I bring my baby for their first dental check-up?
Here, Dr Renee Ashby, partner dentist at Shepherds Hill Dental Centre and mother of young children, explains why it’s important to take care of your child’s teeth well before they learn about the tooth fairy.
Reasons for your child’s first dental visit
1. Familiarisation – the age 1 dental visit
As a rough guide, the average age that a child should see a dentist is between one to two years old – that’s when their baby teeth would have come in. At one, you’re bringing them in for familiarisation. And two is an age when the child is able to sit on mum or dad’s lap, have their teeth looked at and get some sense of what’s going on.
If you’re not sure when to bring them in, just come when a parent or a sibling has an appointment.
Our approach is that we don’t expect toddlers to sit in the dental chair and get their teeth done all at once.It’s about exposing them gradually, so visiting the dentist becomes a straightforward, experience that isn’t scary.
Some small kids will be fine and might be able to sit in the chair independently, and have their teeth looked at with the mirror and light. Other kids might prefer to sit on mum’s lap for the first visit; the second time, they might want to sit in the big chair themselves and open their mouth.
2. Development and prevention
If you notice your toddler’s tooth going black, it could be a sign of early decay. The baby back molars are often the teeth most likely to develop decay in a child. They often first appear from 18 months onwards. It’s a great idea to bring them in for a visit from this age onwards, so these molars can be monitored.
Even if you think your child has no dental issues, just come in and get them familiarised with us, so that seeing the dentist isn’t a scary thing. We can keep an eye on their dental development as well, so we can deal with any issues that crop up.
3. Dental emergencies
Hopefully, the first time a child comes to the dentist isn’t when they’ve had a fall and smashed their teeth! But if yours does, call our practice straightaway.
What happens at a child’s first appointment?
From the moment they come in, we try to make the visit a fun experience for your child. We introduce ourselves and shake hands with our little patient, and follow a protocol that we call ‘tell, show, do’.
We talk to them about what we’re going to do, show them what we’re going to use – how the mirror reflects you, the lights, the special glasses that you wear and so on. Then we perform the procedure as long as the child is comfortable.
If the child isn’t ok, we might not do anything dental at all. If they’re able to cope, we might do a quick examination while they’re sitting on mum’s lap. If the child is really confident, we might do a proper check-up.
Sometimes it helps to show them the procedure first on mum, dad or their sister, or maybe on a toy.
How to choose the best dentist for your child
The key is to make sure that your child’s first visit is non-stressful and non-threatening. You want a dentist that will make them feel comfortable and relaxed, a person that’s open to change depending on the child’s reactions, and makes them feel no pressure.
It’s not the end of the world if a proper dental check-up doesn’thappen during their first visit, unless there’s some issue (for most kids, there isn’t going to be one).
We just want the first couple of experiences to be nice and easy.
Tips for kids first dentist visit Adelaide
- We encourage you to bring your kids in without an appointment, just to see the practice.They can come in with mum, dad and their siblings, look around and just get familiar with the place.
- When you’re talking about the dentist, always be positive. Try not to put your own fears into your child’s head before they even get here. You might want to come in and talk to us first about what to say, just so you know what you’re going to do and how to approach it. That way, you can be truthful to your child. Just describe things invery relaxed, positive terms, and we’ll take it from there.
- To help your child feel comfortable, give them some time before the appointment to play in the practice – they can open our treasure box, which has lots of toys and books.
- Let them bring their favourite toy. When my daughter has her dental check-up, she holds a little toy pig on her lap. It helps them feel safe.
Baby dentist near you
You’re welcome to pop into our practice in Blackwood, Adelaide, with your little one or please call us on 08 8278 6858 to book your child’s first dental check-up