When should I bring my child to the dentist for the first time?
It is very important for children to visit the dentist from an early age, and normally we recommend that you bring toddlers with you when you come a long for your routine examinations.
Let’s face it, as a parent you do the majority of the work for the first years, looking after your children’s teeth by brushing and following a healthy, low sugar diet. Visits to the dentist from an early age are there to get your child used to coming, and also allowing them to get used to the equipment that is in a dental surgery. For a little person it can all be quite intimidating, so it is normally from about 4 years of age we are able to start looking properly at dental health and development; before that it really is hit or miss!
Normally, beyond the age of four most children are happy to hop in the chair and let us have a good look around. The children we struggle with are the children who have never been to the dentist, or who have been infrequently.
As a dentist I know a lot about teeth, but as a parent I also know the difficulties in getting children to brush their teeth regularly. So here are some simple rules to follow:
- Start bringing your child to the dentist from an early age
- Keep coming back to develop a relationship between your child and their dentist
- Brush your child’s teeth twice a day if your can (though once a day for babies with teeth is normally OK)
- Avoid giving children fruit based or sugary drinks between meals. Try and just give water as a drink for as long as possible.
- Avoid snacks between meals that have sugar added to them
- Use an age appropriate fluoride toothpaste to help keep the teeth strong
- Start brushing teeth when they start coming through – this will keep plaque levels down and also help reduce teething pain
- Give babies a toothbrush to play with from an early age. It will end up in their mouth which means when you start brushing they’ll be used to it
- Use a toothbrush timer to ensure that you or your child brush their teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day
- An electric brush can be used when children are older but use a normal toothbrush to start, until they have developed the manual dexterity to use a brush.