While it’s never too late to have your child’s smile evaluated, the recommended age a child should go to the dentist might surprise you. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends little ones have their first dentist visit six months after their first tooth erupts or by the age of one. That might seem really young but there are a number of reasons why these early appointments are so important and we’re sharing them.
Why Should Kids See a Dentist By Age One?
Sometimes people are under the misconception that baby teeth are just going to fall out anyway so dentist’s visits aren’t that important. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Baby teeth serve a number of important functions, including saving space for the permanent teeth to come in properly, aiding in facial and dental development, allowing for chewing and speaking, and giving kids confidence when they smile. Caring for the primary teeth as soon as they erupt is crucial, which is part of the reasoning behind the AAPD’s recommendation.
At a kid’s dental check-up, we look at how their teeth are erupting to ensure everything is on track with their development. We also check the health of their teeth and gums and keep an eye out for things like cavities. Detecting issues early on will mean easier, less invasive treatment.
Your child will also receive a professional cleaning, which removes hardened plaque that you can’t get rid of on your own with a regular toothbrush. We can offer preventative treatments, including fluoride treatments and for school-aged kids, dental sealants. Considering according to the CDC, about 20% of children ages five to 11 have at least one untreated decayed tooth, any preventative measures we can take are a good thing and the earlier the better! Plus, you’ll learn everything you need to know about developing a homecare routine from your dentist, letting you ensure prevention is starting at home.
Beyond all of that, early appointments also introduce kids to the dentist. They get a feel for the sights and sounds of the office, develop a rapport with the dentist and team members, and just get comfortable with the process. This can go a long way in helping kids establish a good relationship with dental visits, which will be helpful throughout their lives.
Why Should Kids Visit a Pediatric Dentist vs. a General Dentist?
Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of the dental world. They go through additional specialty training after dental school where they learn how to care for children throughout the different stages of childhood. They have the knowledge and experience to address the unique oral health needs of kids and they also understand child psychology, allowing them to use behavioral techniques to ensure little ones get the care they need.
Pediatric dental offices, such as 914 Smiles, are bright, cheerful and designed with kids in mind. Additionally, our Tarrytown pediatric dentist Dr. Reshma Kumar and the team always keep things positive and speak in terms kids can understand. They use techniques like tell-show-do and positive reinforcement to help children feel relaxed and at ease. By going to a kid-friendly dentist, you can be sure your child will get off on the right foot with dental visits, making future appointments easier on you both.
What Happens at a Child’s First Dental Visit?
What happens at a child’s first dental visit will vary depending on why they’re visiting and their age. Dr. Kumar always goes at your child’s pace and lets them guide the appointment. For younger kids coming in for a check-up the first visit may go something like this:
- You’ll check in with our friendly front desk team members. Kids can play with toys or read a book in our comfy reception area until it’s their turn.
- Your child will head back to the treatment area. Feel free to bring along their favorite toy or a stuffed animal if they feel nervous. We use a low-dose, digital x-ray machine and only take x-rays if necessary. If your child does need them, the experience is quick and comfortable.
- Once your child is situated, we’ll count their teeth and perhaps do a gentle cleaning if needed. For a baby’s first dental visit, they’ll usually sit on mom or dad’s lap. Dr. Kumar will examine their mouth and then chat with you about different topics, including cleaning their teeth, baby bottle tooth decay, teething, and oral habits like pacifier use or thumb sucking. She’ll answer any questions you have.
- For an older child, we can finish the visit with a fluoride treatment. Then, we’ll wrap things up by showing them where the prizes are.
Now that you know when to schedule a child’s first dental visit and what to expect, if you’re looking for a fun, friendly pediatric dentist, look no further. Book your appointment for a kid’s dental check-up in Tarrytown at 914 Smiles today!