Bringing a child in to get used to the sights, sounds and smells of the dental surgery early is a good idea. In our experience children of about 3-4 years of age are emotionally ready for their first dental check up. That being said you can always bring them earlier if you have an questions or concerns.
Baby teeth, also called primary teeth, are just as important as permanent (adult) teeth. Strong, healthy primary teeth can help your child chew and speak. They also hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums.
When babies are born, they usually have 20primary teeth that have partly formed inside the gums. The front two upper and lower teeth usually begin to come through (erupt) when the child is between 6-12months. Most children have a set of 20 primary teeth in their mouths by the time they are 3 years old.
Tooth decay can occur as soon as your child’s first tooth erupts. Parents may wonder why they should worry about decay in baby teeth, since they will be replaced by permanent teeth. The problem is that decay in primary teeth increases the risk of decay in the permanent teeth. And if the decay is severe, young children can become ill quickly and require hospitalisation.
It’s best to meet the dentist when your child is having no dental problems – don’t wait until an emergency comes up.
What happens at the first dental visit?
When you make your appointment, let us know it’s your child first dental visit and we will arrange for a special letter to be sent to your child introducing them to their dentist.
If possible, schedule a morning appointment when children tend to be rested and cooperative.
During the first appointment, we will:
- Take a detailed medical history
- Introduce your child to some of the things they are see around them as they sit in the dental chair
- Carry out a comprehensive examination checking the hard and soft tissues
- Answer all your questions, providing you with some preventative strategies
- Discuss and give out a detailed treatment plan if appropriate. We do not start treatment at the first appointment unless it is an emergency
- At the end of the appointment, we organise a follow-up generally 6-12months later depending on the age of the child.
Our priority is to make it a positive experience, so don’t despair if we don’t necessarily get all of the above done, every child is different.
How to prepare your child?
We are very happy for you to come and have a look at the practice even if you are not seeing the dentist. Perhaps coming in person with your child to make the appointment can help reassure the child about where they are coming for their first dental visit. If you are relaxed at the dentist consider bringing them with you to your check ups, sometimes having another person available to mind them can be helpful in these instances.
Practicing lying on the bed, with the child opening their mouth and counting their teeth can also be good for little ones and it can give you an opportunity to have a little look around to identify if there is anything specific you would like us to check on.
Your attitude is very important. Children can easily perceive the energy and attitude of the parents. Remember, if you are relaxed, then your child is likely to be relaxed.